An overwhelming majority of Americans support handgun ownership, and there is increased opposition to a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” according to the results of the annual Gallup Crime poll, conducted Oct. 6-9.
Gallup released the results of its annual Crime poll Wednesday, which can be viewed here, and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation was quick to react.
“The public’s attitude about gun ownership has changed dramatically in the last decade, and especially since the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling in 2008 and our victory in the 2010 McDonald ruling, affirming the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right.”—Alan Gottlieb, SAF executive vice president
According to Gallup, “a record-low 26 percent of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns…other than by police and other authorized people.” That’s a significant reversal from 1959, when Gallup first started asking the question and 60 percent of those who responded favored such a ban. However, the percentage has been gradually shifting, and since 1975, the majority has always favored private handgun ownership.
There was what some might consider a startling revelation in today’s Gallup announcement:
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
Could it be that: a) More Americans realize that the modern semiautomatic sport/utility rifle is not really an “assault weapon” at all, and, b) An increasing number of citizens own these guns and realize they are not the weapons of mass destruction that gun prohibitionists have asserted?
A third revelation may be difficult for the gun prohibition lobby to spin. According to Gallup, “support for the broader concept of making gun laws ‘more strict’ is at its lowest (43%).” Gallup said that 44 percent of Americans believe gun laws are just fine the way they are, and 11 percent favor relaxing existing gun laws. Here’s what Gallup observed:
Americans’ preference regarding gun laws is generally that the government enforce existing laws more strictly and not pass new laws (60%) rather than pass new gun laws in addition to stricter enforcement of existing laws (35%). That has been the public’s view since Gallup first asked the question in 2000; the 60% this year who want stricter enforcement but no new laws is tied for the high in the trend.
SAF’s Gottlieb told this column that increased gun ownership over the past few years, during a period when violent crime rates have steadily declined, has demonstrated to most citizens that the gun prohibition movement dealt more with hysteria than fact.
“The public has also realized that all the doom and gloom rhetoric from gun prohibitionists about more crime and violence associated with increased gun ownership has been wrong.”—Alan Gottlieb
Gallup polling data still shows more Democrats favor stricter gun controls and even support handgun bans than Republicans or independent voters.
One of the key implications of this year’s poll results, according to Gallup, is that the trends “are a reflection of the American public’s acceptance of guns.”
In 2008, Gallup found widespread agreement with the idea that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to own guns. Americans may also be moving toward more libertarian views in some areas, one example of which is greater support for legalizing marijuana use. Diminished support for gun-control laws may also be tied to the lack of major gun-control legislation efforts in Congress in recent years.—Gallup
No small amount of credit should go to the Supreme Court rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, the latter being SAF’s landmark case that struck down the Chicago handgun ban last year and incorporated the Second Amendment to the states.
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