Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Gallup Poll on Firearms Laws

In what appears to be an amazingly good trend, Americans are losing their taste for strict gun control laws. A recent Gallup Poll finds that support for handgun bans and stricter firearms laws is at an all time low – and many of these polls include more than 20 years worth of data. Perhaps the most striking is the handgun ban data. When asked the question:

“Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons”

The results were an all time low of 29% favoring such a ban. Compare this to an astonishing 60% in 1959. If you look at the graph, the trend over the years has been on a fairly consistent downward trend with support dropping below 50% in 1965 and reaching a low of 31% in 1980 before rising to the mid 40% range until the 1990s. The downward trend resumes in the 1990s with a few bumps for high profile firearm cases, but those don’t seem to result in the large bumps seen in the past. This data shows conclusively that cities like DC, Chicago, and others are out of step with the rest of the nation which has recognized that firearm ownership is a civil right, and that firearm bans have done nothing to stem crime.

The other question asked was:

“In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”

The data here only runs from 1990 to the present, but it shows the same declining trend. In 1990, an amazing 78% of the nation wanted stricter gun laws, today, only 49% do. Those wishing to keep laws as they are today has increased from a paltry 17% to 41% today. Less strict started out at about 2% and has increased to 8%. The peak was about 12% in the 1995 poll (after the so-called “assault weapon ban” passed). It is clear that over time America is recognizing that the problem isn’t firearms, or firearm laws. This year’s poll is important because it is the first time in a long time that the majority of Americans do NOT want stricter gun laws. Our laws are adequate to keep guns out of the hand of criminals through legal channels. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the evil in the hearts of many. They will find ways to perpetrate their atrocities regardless of the law. Their very actions are already in defiance of many laws, so it is clear to this author (and obviously many others) that additional firearm laws won’t curb that sort of random madness.

Gallup also provided a demographic breakdown of both questions. Women tended to favor stricter gun laws than men. Democrats tend to favor stricter gun laws than Republicans or Independents. Non-gun owners tend to favor stricter gun laws than gun owners. What I do find interesting is that there is no major difference between age groups or geographic region. This indicates that opposition to additional gun control is growing across the nation and among the youth as well. Far too often gun owners are painted as “old white men” who are “out of touch”. These results begin to belie that myth.

While these results are very encouraging, there are clearly areas that need additional work – for example, far too many Democrats still don’t recognize that the Second Amendment affirms a civil right. One of the best ways I’ve found to change someone’s mind about firearms is to actually take them shooting. For a lot of people a “gun” is an abstract concept. It’s something they’ve seen on TV or heard about from the Brady Campaign or other Anti-Second group. Take them out to the range – teach them about firearm safety – teach them about responsible gun ownership. Ignorance is perhaps our greatest enemy in this fight, fortunately it’s also the easiest to overcome!

Until next time!!!


Micah said...

Awesome as always and this is really great news! I hope the trend continues. I couldn't agree more with your last statement about taking people shooting. I think the hardest part is getting them out there to actually do it. Once there barriers seem to melt away and transformations take place.
Did you ever see this? I thought it was great, I know if more people would go to the range they would have the same reaction.

Fingolfen said...

Thanks Micah! I'd missed that link... ties in perfectly with what I was saying at the end of this entry... :D