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For years, the opinion polls on gun control have been trending in favor of gun rights. People have been turning away from the idea that gun control is the quick fix to all of America’s woes, and toward the idea that guns might actually be helping instead of hurting. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, those numbers dipped dramatically. No surprise there. But just as dramatic has been the quick correction back to the pre-Newtown status quo, and a recent Pew poll shows some other interesting trends . . .

First and foremost, the lead picture says it all. Seven months after Newtown, and we’re back to “normal.” One of the worst gun-related events in American history resulted in some knee-jerk state level changes. But on the federal level gun control has been brought to a screeching halt. And even those states in which stricter gun control has been enacted are starting to see some of the new laws being walked back or a concerted effort to repeal them.


The reason for the overall success that gun rights groups have seen is simply that gun control advocates just don’t care. While NRA members gladly open their wallets every time there’s a hint of new restrictions in the works, those on the other side just aren’t as motivated. Fully one quarter of gun rights folks have donated money to the cause, compared to a measly 6% of anti-gunners. They’ll say they want more gun control in an opinion poll, but they aren’t motivated enough to see that it actually happens.


The most interesting result of the poll is that, in general, the stereotypes we assign to Republicans and Democrats hold true. Most Dems believe that reducing gun ownership will lower the murder rate, and don’t particularly give a crap about reducing the ability of people to protect themselves. They also don’t buy the “slippery slope” argument, at least as applied to guns.


Also of note: gun ownership is on the rise. According to the Pew poll, over 40% of Americans own a gun. The actual number is bound to be much higher (seriously, would you tell a random stranger who calls your house that you own firearms?) but even at this reported level it’s hard to ignore gun ownership and claim that it’s a dying fad, as some gun control advocates are wont to do.

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  1. “According to the Pew poll, over 40% of Americans own a gun. ”

    41% of households own a gun. 27% of individuals. According to that poll.

    Good info!!! Thanks for posting the #’s. And… yes… if I were called by a polling org like Pew I would answer all of those questions but decline to answer questions related to whether or not I own a gun or if there is a gun in the house.

    • I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to participate in polls. I don’t know whether they are a legitimate poll, a push poll, or an agravating sales pitch. Since so many polls are designed to achieve a ‘desired’ result, I say let’s start a Poll Revolt Movement to totally invalidate their already dishonest polls.
      Poll Revolt!
      Poll Revolt!
      Poll Revolt!

    • 41% of households is still over 47 million homes (most recent census states 115m households) that means that 122.2 million people are in households with guns (out of 314m people, 39% of the population are around firearms) and considering that since there has only been 118m NCIS checks since the program started…

      • Actually, according to the survey, 41% of the people live in a household where there is a gun, not 41% of households. I wonder if there is any correlation between gun ownership and family size?

  2. I am somewhat concerned about the high percentage of independents who hold views that align with gun control arguments. More and more people in this country are self-identifying as independent one of the two historical political parties. The number of Republicans is on the decline, so it becomes very important to convince independents that the gun control industry is wrong

    • You are right, but if you look at the poll numbers compared to the historical performance (for questions where that is available) independents generally seem less friendly to gun control, not more.

      The exceptions are their belief that stricter gun laws would prevent mass shootings and their skepticism that stricter laws will lead to total disarmament.

      One fact that would be good to have is what type of gun control were they thinking of? UBC, AWB, XYZ? Knowing that answer might tell us which arguments work with independents and which don’t.

    • I suspect that the kind of independents who support the 2nd amendment are not inclined to participate in a survey about their guns.

    • I’m a Libertarian and I consider the NRA to be a left wing organization. They need to get with the program and repeal the Hugh’s Amendment

  3. How do they determine who they ask for these polls? I don’t know anyone who has ever been polled on any major issue like this.

    • Ryan, Pew Research lays out its survey research methodology–both for collecting and analysing data–at its various web sites.

      Nick did not supply the source of the gun ownership data; he simply appended “Pew Research Center,” without reference to which Center was in question. I am assuming that it refers to various sets of data collected and reported by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, whose methods are explained here.

    • Me neither, which is why I automatically suspect the legitimacy of most of these polls – not necessarily that they are faked, but I suspect that these polls by their nature leave out major sections of the population just by the way they are conducted – e.g. in many cases, polls are only conducted by random using land-line phone numbers. Since most people under the age of 40 tend not to even have a land line today, and many opt-out of solicitation calls on their cell phones, that is a huge chunk of polling data just thrown away.

      Remember the Quinnipiac study that was used by the Obama administration to determine that “90% of Americans support background checks?” Well it was conducted almost entirely by land-line call to some 1,700 residents living in predominantly northeastern states, and the questions were borderline misleading – e.g. “do you support background checks that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and mass-murderers?”

      How many highly-suggestible people would say “no” once they heard the second part, simply based on the assumption that they don’t want to appear as being sympathetic to murderers in the mind of some pollster that they don’t even know?

      • Pew currently conducts 50% of interviews on landlines and 50% on cell phones for their monthly news polls. They are among the most rigorous public pollsters. Results are weighted ensure the right mix of demographics such as age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, population density, region, and phone use (landline only, cell only, and have both). Is any survey perfect? No, but Pew is a top tier public pollster.

  4. As I said when this started: The situation is much, much better than it was in 1994. People should go back and look at polling in the early 90’s. Yes, we’ve got some states that have decided to go full retard.

    The difference back then was that they had lots more people outside the liberal urban enclaves buying the reasoning of people like Schumer and Feinstein. The public even in what are now pro-gun states were ready to start outlawing a lot of guns.

    The polling above shows a significant positive change to me.

    • Indeed. Despite the despair of some over NY and CO, I’ve been saying that we’re winning the war we’ve just lost some battles.

      It’s really sick that so many anti-gunners saw Newtown as “their moment to push their agenda through.” Disgusting. Anyone willing to trod on the graves of children to push their political beliefs needs to do some serious soul searching.

      • It is indeed, but from long involvement in this issue, I’ve come to expect no less from them.

        • As I move my token from the ‘youngin’ side of the board towards the ‘old hand’ side I recall the 1994 AWB, the way it electrified the gun community, and the laughing stock it made of those who had supported it. I also remember how many scofflaws it created as we swapped bayonets on and off of rifles, installed our own flash hiders and just generally ran rough shod over federal law in what was one half a giggle fest about unenforceability and one half silent protest of bad legislation. I also remember though that ammo was cheap and plentiful as soon as the fervor died down (I mean $2.50 for 20 7.62×39 and $3.00 for the same of .223). Perhaps most importantly for the future I remember that the 94 AWB failed utterly to reduce crime, or even the number of ‘assault weapons’ under its definition. Just like this last try it caused a net increase in gun ownership, specifically of the types of rifles it sought to ban.
          The civilian disarmament movement saw a political win on paper while reality moved further from their stated goals. Since they do not and have not ever considered the actual impact their actions have, or for that matter let reality have anything to do with their worldview or decision making all this is lost on them. You could say it’s a case of the more they win AND the more they lose the further they get from looking rational to everyone else, gunners and non-gunners included.

    • Regardless of the polling, it’s no time for complacency. These progressive, statist grabber politicians are insidious and pragmatic. They will continue their efforts without delay. They are well funded compliments of Bloomberg/MAIG, and BIG money attracts other money.

      The relentless efforts by California politicians, now mainly the Democrats, who have and continue to enact progressively more restrictive anti gun state legislation should be instructive. This is a cancer that can be spread with marketing and messaging by the Democrats and their supportive media buddies. The efforts in the US Senate clearly mirror the initial gun control inroads established in CA.

      These grabbers WILL NOT remain inactive while they await another tragedy. They are laying the groundwork to best use another tragedy to further their goals of gun control and eventual systematic confiscation, be it at the state or national level.

      • Agree completely. They will either tax guns out of existence or make everyone guilty of a confiscatory crime. The die hards, deluded, and power-crazed will never give up.

      • Oh, I agree. There’s no rest for the righteous.

        I’m just much more confident that we’ll prevail. In 1994, the situation looked rather grim.

  5. I would like to see the data (sample size etc.) for the poll if available. With as much crap as we give the other side when thy use bad data it seems hypocritical to just imply without verification that this is potentially accurate. And I like to believe we are the less hypocritical of the two camps.

    Regardless, glad to see the fight is paying off!

      • I am celebrating this, and note that there is little chance of a school shooting for almost another month. Come late August, however, watch out; they won’t take this loss lying down.

        Let’s pray they do something rash and stupid.

        • Are you advocating murder?????? I sure hope you’re talking about a False Flag/Black Op.

        • Second half of comment, eaten by the server earlier:

          I hope if they do a false flag, it’s bungled badly with no loss of life. As in first responders arriving quickly, actors captured, and MSM forced to cover the action. Results will be egg on a lot of faces and some VERY angry voters.

      • Exactly, Tom in Oregon.

        Complacency is what got us in the vulnerable spot we are in today.

  6. Bias in the pew graph?

    Looking at the graph (without knowing the values of the axis), it seems that gun rights took a drastic down turn between first and second polling (May, & Dec), but took a longer time to recover. This is not the case.

    If you extrapolate the data, the same time frame would put gun rights at roughly 47% in the graph, which would be above the polling percentage about 10 months prior. The graph needs to have a consistent X axis for it to be truly accurate.

    • They showed the discrepency in their graphs x axis by using a dashed line between the July point and the December point. Still, most people will not be able to distinguish this and will infer that gun rights support took a steep decline, when in reality it was over a 6 month span.

  7. the most interesting part is the change since 1993. Only 51% think that stricter laws will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. more people (54%) think they will stop a mass attack. something to work on there.

    another interesting observation – On some issues (like preventing a mass attack) independents seem to lean towards the democrat side, on other issues, like giving the govt too much power, they tend to lean R.

    Only 14% of women personally own a gun? husbands, boyfriends, take your wives to the range darn it!

    go away malicious attack.

    • My son and I have taken my daughter to the range. Working on getting one of my nieces, but she doesn’t live close to me. Trying to get her to visit.

      As for my wife, it’s a lost cause. This from a woman who shot at a prowler with her father’s 22LR rifle when she was a teenager. Go figure.

  8. My reply to Ryan did not appear, trying again.

    Ryan, Pew Research’s Center for the People and the Press is probably the source of this data, though Nick did not source note that (“Pew Center” is a broad umbrella term for many parallel/diverse Pew-funded research initiatives).

    Here is CP&P’s methodology, including sampling design, polling methods, questionnaire design, and much more:

  9. “The reason for the overall success that gun rights groups have seen is simply that gun control advocates just don’t care.”

    There can be a grey-shadded difference between advocates and supporters. A percentage of hardcore dedicated advocates might have made financial donations. People can be supportive of a cause or movement without wanting to contribute money or time (ie showing up at gun control rallies) to its achievement.

  10. But… but….. 90% of all Americans want more gun control! I know it’s true because Joe Biden said so!!!

  11. Note the drop in ownership at ages (30-49) when children are in the house.
    During that period for me, my guns “rested” in the safe, the bolts, cylinders,etc locked up in another box and ammo in a third secured spot. My kids would have to have been Houdini x3 to make them work. My son now complains that I didn’t break them out earlier. Except for when he was about 9 and I had him shoot a slug out of the 20G DB to feel the recoil and watch a milk jug explode. Good way to show him that you are letting loose the devil when you pull the trigger. I also taught him that with safey parctices, you are the devils boss.
    Now we shoot together as often as we can.

  12. It really should be more difficult to pass laws. Takes a few hours for some of the most oppressive legislation to be signing into law yet it takes years, decades, even generations to repeal them.

  13. I am not sure why everyone act like colorado ranks up there with new york on gun control. We actually could have been a lot worse. hey passed the mag ban and background checks. Both laws were so horribly written and thought out they will not likely stand up in court. There are other states that have been hit much harder.

    • I surely wish Maryland had a recall. Our Congresscritters don’t even do Town Halls any more.

  14. While NRA members gladly open their wallets every time there’s a hint of new restrictions in the works, those on the other side just aren’t as motivated.

    This is true, and I wanted to highlight this portion for a very important reason:

    It shows that they’re lying.

    Gun control propaganda is always predicated on a sense of urgency. This is necessary, we’re told, to prevent the untimely violent deaths of children. They tell us that anyone who opposes it doesn’t care about children being shot. But clearly they themselves feel no sense of urgency. How can that be, unless they already know it’s all a sham, that gun control wouldn’t really have a positive effect on violence?

  15. I’m not sure the optimistic take on these numbers is justified. Having done some looking at the overall report the numbers are actually kind of grim. Healthy majorities of “Independents” surveyed support a registry and a small majority (54%) support an assault weapons ban.

    A UCB does track at 81% overall with R support at 80% (though only 57% of Rs like Manchin-Toomey).

    This, combined with the increased skepticism among independents about the slipper slope to confiscation indicates (to me at least) that arguments based on privacy (the survey was taken before the whole NSA thing hit) might gain more ground with independents than arguments based on the fear of confiscation.

    Also, while protection is now the most common reason given for owning a gun a pure 2A justification has actually decreased from 4% to 2% from the 90s.

    Finally, the 41% of homes with guns is consistent with Gallup studies showing a gradual decline in the number of homes that own guns ( I agree there is likely some under-reporting, and it may be significant, but I don’t see the upward trend we would hope for.

  16. Another interesting fact is that among the 58% of people without a gun who would not feel comfortable with a gun in the house the most common reason why is fear of accident (39%). This is why proper gun safety and storage is so important. People see news stories of unsafe handling and think that accidents are way more common than they actually are, which gives them a poor view of guns and prevents them and their household from becoming a gun owner. (

    Every unsafe gun owner craps the bed we all have to lie in.

  17. Comment was eaten-I bet Disqus doesn’t have these problems *ducks*

    Another interesting fact is that among the 60% of non-gun owners who do not feel comfortable with having a gun in their house the most common reason given is fear of accident (39%) In fact, that is twice as common as not liking guns (18%).

    This goes to show the harm that unsafe gun owners do to the RKBA. If there were fewer incidents of negligent discharges and kids getting unsecured guns fewer people would be afraid of accidents and more likely to become gun owners.

    Negligent gun owners foul the bed we all have to lie in.

  18. Since Boobama has taken office I bet that there are a lot more gun owners than before he was elected.Since December I bet there are a lot more new gun owners too.It appears that gun buying has tapered off a little or the gun manufacturers are starting to catch up with demand.but for the ammo shortage it keeps going on,no end in sight.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  19. Pew Research, you say? I suppose they’d be the ones who’d know about guns. Pew pew pew pew!

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