Just days after Democrats on Capitol Hill — California’s Nancy Pelosi among them — signaled their intent to push once again for congressional action on greater gun control, along comes a new poll that provides their opponents with powerful ammunition.
The Pew Research Center says that, for the first time in more than twenty years of surveys, the American people express more support for gun rights than gun control.
Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.
Pew says these new numbers show a significant shift in the public’s attitude since the tragic Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown almost two years ago.
The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later.
Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).
Further findings in the new Pew Research survey support the argument of those who say that recent street violence, looting and destruction in the wake of the Ferguson and New York City police incidents have prompted the public to think more favorably about gun ownership for personal protection.
Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% say it does more to endanger personal safety.
This new poll would certainly appear to show the American public would not be supportive of a handful of Democrat lawmakers who, according to thehill.com, will push once again for universal background checks on all gun sales in the new Republican-controlled Congress.
Background check legislation failed to gain traction in the outgoing Congress despite a string of high-profile school shootings that gun control advocates had hoped would turn the political tide in their favor.
“When you don’t pass background checks, it’s just much more likely that someone will get their hands on an illegal gun and use it to kill their neighbors or their classmates,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined her fellow Democrats in their renewed call for enhanced gun control measures. But a key constituency for Pelosi & company — the African-American community — is also showing a big shift in attitudes about gun rights vs. gun control. According to Pew:
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%).
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