Despite recent high profile shooting incidents in Colorado and suburban Milwaukee, Americans’ attitude toward gun control hasn’t changed much since a similar survey was taken in 2011.
In the new poll, sponsored by Cable News Network (CNN), 50 percent of the respondents said they favor no restrictions or only minor restrictions on owning firearms, while 48 percent said they support major restrictions or a complete ban on gun ownership by individuals except police and other authorized personnel.
According to CNN, the numbers remain unchanged since the last survey in 2011. In fact, according to CNN-contracted pollsters, the number of respondents supporting major restrictions or a complete ban has remained in the 48-50 percent range for more than a decade.
However, according to gun rights advocates, such as policy-expert John Snyder, “The message is clear. Gun laws do not stop mass murder. Citizens armed with guns do. Guns save lives. As a matter of fact, citizens with guns stop crime two and a half million times a year, according to Professor Gary Kleck, Ph.D. of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University in Tallahassee.”
“The word is getting around,” Snyder said. “Anti-gun policies do not stop crime. Decent citizens with guns do. Public and private policies should reflect this.”
There are also different attitudes toward the issue among genders, people with different political inclinations, and people living in different parts of the country as well.
“There are gender and ideological gaps on this issue, with more than six in 10 women and two thirds of self-described liberals supporting major restrictions or a complete ban, compared to just 34 percent of men and 36 percent of self-described conservatives. And major restrictions on guns are more popular in urban areas and in the Northeast than in the rest of the country,” stated a CNN spokesperson in the network’s press statement.
It would seem that news of shootings does nothing to move the needle on gun control for either side. While this is heartening, it is also puzzling. On issues like abortion and gay marriage, attitudes have changed over the last decade with more people opposing abortion and supporting gay marriage. Why is the gun control debate immune from these kinds of swings?
It could be because the issue of gun control has become a personal safety issue, rather than an abstract goal that majorities used to support. As society has become more dangerous, more people are adamant about having the option to defend themselves and their property by purchasing a gun relatively unhindered. There has also been an increase in the number of Americans who don’t trust the government. Taken together, it paints a picture of the pro-gun rights side as more practical than the pro-gun control side. And as a practical people, the pro-gun rights arguments appeal to more citizens.
Americans have appeared to reject the argument of gun control advocates that the shootings could have been prevented if only the right to bear arms had been diminished in some fashion. That bodes well moving forward if, as expected, liberals make an attempt to impose restrictions on the ownership of firearms that would be at odds with our Second Amendment rights.