Since December 2012, when Pew last released a major poll on gun rights, the percentage of those who believe that guns help to prevent people from becoming crime victims has shot up significantly. And for the first time in over 20 years, a majority of those polled by Pew, 52 percent, say it’s more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns than it is to control gun ownership:
In the new Pew poll, 57 percent of adult respondents said guns “protect people from becoming crime victims,” compared to only 38 percent who said guns “put people’s safety at risk.” In 2012, the pro-gun spread between those two responses was 11 percentage points vs. a 21-point pro-gun gap in the latest numbers. And it turns out that a belief in the fundamental right to self-defense now spans partisan, gender, and racial divides.
A majority of independents (62), women (51 percent), and blacks (54 percent) told Pew that guns do more to protect innocent people than they do to endanger others’ safety. In the December 2012 poll, only 29 percent of blacks polled said guns did more to protect people from crime. The numbers have swung from a -24-point gap to a +13-point pro-gun gap, a net swing of 37 percentage points:
Here’s how Pew characterized the results:
Over the past two years, blacks’ views on this measure have changed dramatically. Currently, 54% of blacks say gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger personal safety, nearly double the percentage saying this in December 2012 (29%). By contrast, whites’ views have shown less change: 62% now view guns as doing more to protect people, up from 54% in December.
Significant upticks in support for gun rights were also registered in nearly ever age group, with a big jump in support coming from 18- to 29-year-olds:
Liberal Democrats are the only partisan/ideological group polled by Pew to register a drop in support for the statement that guns can help protect people from crime. The percentage of liberals polled who agreed with that statement fell from 15 percent to 14 percent.
The full results and write-up of the Pew poll can be found here.