Support for gun rights is at an all-time high — especially among black Americans

Shooting a Gun

A recent Pew Research poll suggests more Americans are concerned about protecting gun rights than restricting gun ownership. 52 percent of Americans — the highest percentage since Pew began asking the question 20 years ago — favor greater gun freedom, compared to 46 percent of Americans who support stricter regulations. The twenty-year trend shows support for gun rights steadily increasing, while support for restrictions on the decline.

Two Years After Newtown, A Shift in Favor of Gun Rights

The study finds:

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later. Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

Support for gun ownership is up across nearly every demographic.

Most shockingly, the percentage of black Americans who believe gun ownership protects individuals from falling victim to violent crime is up almost double what it was just two years ago, from 29 percent to 54 percent (a 25-point increase). The next highest increase was among Republicans, whose support jumped from 63 percent to 80 percent (a 17-point increase). Only liberal Democrats saw a decrease from December 2012 to today; 23 percent agreed gun ownership protected individuals from becoming victims of crime two years ago, compared to 20 percent today.

When asked if it was more important to protect gun rights than to enact stricter regulations, nearly every demographic supported greater gun rights over greater restrictions. Among women, support jumped from 38 percent to 43 percent. Among 18-29 year olds, the figure jumped from 39 percent to 47 percent. Urban respondents saw a 5-point increase. The figure dipped for liberal Democrats and Hispanics, but only insignificantly (1-point and 2-points, respectively).

In Virginia, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe unveiled a series of proposed gun restrictions on Monday, including the “one gun a month” rule, which was eliminated under his Republican predecessor. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo.

A Pew Research study earlier this year revealed gun ownership is at a four-decade low,; however a Gallup study from 2011 suggests self-reported gun ownership is at the highest level since 1993. Whatever the case may be, it appears support for America’s pro-gun culture is climbing.

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