For decades we’ve seen a steady movement in public opinion away from the 1980’s era belief that gun control is the solution to all of our nation’s crime problems. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, that trend momentarily reversed, but the latest Pew Research poll shows that the post-Newtown gun control fervor was nothing more than a blip and support for gun ownership and gun rights has never been higher — especially among a surprising demographic . . .
From the press release of the study:
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.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults, also finds a shift in attitudes about whether gun ownership in this country does more to protect people or put people’s safety at risk. Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% say it does more to endanger personal safety. In the days after Newtown, 48% said guns do more to protect people and 37% said they placed people at risk.
So, let’s just highlight these findings real quick in bullet-point format.
- 52% of Americans believe it is more important to protect gun rights than to increase gun control
- 57% of people believe gun ownership protects people from crime, while only 38% believe it endangers safety
There’s news recently that the Democrats might be trying to slip some gun control legislation into the last few days of the legislative session before they are unceremoniously kicked out of power, but according to these numbers the vast majority of Americans no longer agree with their position. Especially since the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, people seem to be realizing that the police won’t always protect them, and that they need to be able to defend themselves. The images of shop owners defending their stores with firearms seems to have resonated with a large number of people and finally gotten them off the fence.
What’s surprising is which demographic has made the largest improvement in respecting gun rights.
When I looked at this table, the first thing I noticed was that it seems the country is becoming more polarized. The increase in people believing it is more important to protect gun rights than control gun ownership isn’t coming from converts to the cause — its coming from people who were previously undecided. Both sides of the equation increased in popularity, but while support for gun control went up 1% support for gun rights jumped 9%.
What this indicates to me is that we might never win over the hardcore gun control supporters, but our message that civil rights and the right to self defense needs to be protected for everyone has really resonated with the fence sitters. Logic and statistics has won out over the shrill cries and emotional appeals from the gun control crowd.
Then I went back and noticed which demographic made the biggest change, and I was surprised to see that it was the black community. Two years ago, only 29% of black people believed that guns protect people from crime and over 50% thought guns put people’s lives at risk. It’s an understandable belief, since the black community is disproportionately represented in the murder and violence statistics that they would want the objects being used against them taken away. But this latest poll shows a remarkable 25% swing, with 51% of blacks now believing that guns protect people.
My opinion is that this is a result of the Ferguson riots and the recent news of police brutality, where black people no longer feel that the police are there to protect them and they want to take control of the situation themselves. It’s a similar mentality that led to the Black Panthers open carrying rifles in California, an action that caused the white Governor and legislature in that state to ban open carry to keep scary black people from having guns.
The poll is a problem — for Democrats. We learned on Monday that Hispanic voters don’t want more gun control, and this latest report continues that trend where minorities are finally realizing that their right to self defense is an important civil right that they need to defend. The Democratic party has bet the farm on pandering to minority issues, but they have also fervently maintained that increased gun control is a core value of their party and something that they want to strive to increase whenever possible.
These latest polls show that the desire for gun control is becoming more and more out of touch with what the country wants, and while the liberal side of the Democratic party still believes in the cause of gun control the moderate to conservative side saw an eight point jump in believing that guns protect people from crime rather than cause harm.
What will be interesting to see is if the Democratic party leaders embrace this change and recognize that gun control is not the answer, or if they fall back to their authoritarian tendencies and believe that they know better and try to cram gun control down the throats of their constituents.