New Survey Highlights Challenges and Opportunities for Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

December 22, 2014
Earlier in December, the Pew Research Center came out with a new poll on Americans’ attitudes on guns. The survey, Pew’s first on the issue since January 2013, showed an overall gain in support for “gun rights” over “gun control” over the past two years. Some of the main takeaways are below:
  • 52% say it’s more important to “protect the right of Americans to own guns,” whereas 46% say it’s more important to “control gun ownership;”
  • 57% say guns do more to “protect people from becoming victims of crime,” while only 38% say guns “put people’s safety at risk;”
  • Men favor “protecting gun rights” by a 61% to 43% margin, while women favor “controlling gun ownership” by a 54% to 43% margin;
  • Whites favor “protecting gun rights” by a 61% to 37% margin, while blacks and Hispanics favor “controlling gun ownership” by a 60% to 34% and 71% to 25% margin, respectively.
Across most demographic groups, we saw an uptick in support for “protecting gun rights” and a decrease in support for “controlling gun ownership.” At first blush, this sounds like unwelcome news for those of us in the gun violence prevention community: even with no change in laws on the federal level and a mixed bag of laws on the state level, Americans seem to be less amenable to passing laws to prevent gun violence. Yet, it’s important to put this survey in perspective. First, we should remember that the previous survey was conducted in January 2013, just a month after the national tragedy of the shooting in Newtown. It’s only natural that attitudes supporting “controlling gun ownership” would erode as time passes. And second, though general attitudes may be shifting slightly, the changes we’ve been fighting for still find overwhelming public support. Universal background checks for gun purchases still are supported by 92% of Americans. This statistic shows us the opportunity gun violence prevention advocates have to make our voices heard in Congress, to speak up and ensure that the views of the many are not drowned out by voices of the few. To get more involved in our campaign to prevent gun violence, Take action and urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor Sen. Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S.1290), tell your mayor to stand up to gun manufacturers and demand safer gun technology, or join our NFTY campaign against gun violence

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