Over the past decade, the percentage of Americans who support gun rights has risen above the percentage of those who advocate gun control, according to a report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released on April 25. Respondents to the survey conducted for the report were asked to indicate whether they thought it was more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns or to control gun ownership. The results of the survey show that 49 percent of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership.
This is a significant change in comparison to 1993, when the same survey found that a majority of Americans said gun control was more important (57 percent) while only 34 percent of Americans responded that the protection of gun rights was more important.
Racial differences in opinion
Fifty-seven percent of whites say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 37 percent say gun control is more important. There has been little change in opinions from white respondents since 2009. Between 1993 and 2008, however, more whites consistently said gun control was more important than gun rights.
African Americans, on the other hand, tend to rank gun control as more important than gun rights. In the most recent survey, 35 percent say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 60 percent say gun control is more important. Nevertheless, the percentage of those who support gun rights has risen sharply from just 18 percent in 1993.
“Partisan differences in opinions about gun control has widened in recent years. Before 2009, no more than about six-in-ten Republicans prioritized gun rights over gun control. In six surveys since April 2009, between 65 percent and 72 percent (in the current survey) of Republicans have said it is more important to protect gun rights,” the report states.
An increasing number of persons who identify as independents support gun rights as well. Currently, 55 percent say gun rights are more important versus 40 percent who favor gun control. Little has changed from surveys conducted in 2009.
Democratic opinion has hardly changed in the past decade. In the current survey, 67 of democrats favor gun control, while 27 percent say gun rights are more important.
Both men and women have become more supportive of gun rights since 1993. Currently, 60 percent of men say it is more important to protect gun rights, which is up from 46 percent in April 2008 and 44 percent in 1993. Thirty-nine percent of women say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, which is up from 30 percent in 2008 and 26 percent in 1993.
Other non-gun issues
The same report also looked at support for legal abortion, support for gay rights and gender, racial and religious positions on various social and political issues. See the full report at www.people-press.org.
Graphs: Pew Research Center