A new poll reports that a majority of Americans favor gun rights and believe guns help protect them from crime.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted this month found that a majority of Americans, 52 percent, thought it was more important to preserve gun ownership rights. Meanwhile, 46 percent of respondents stated it was more important for the government to limit access to firearms.
57 percent of respondents also stated that gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38 percent said gun ownership puts people’s safety at risk.
The center said this is the first time in two decades American opinion has shifted in favor of gun rights. In a 2000 Pew survey, only 29 percent favored gun rights, while a 2013 survey conducted a month after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. found 45 percent of Americans favored gun rights.
In an interview with the New York Times, Jocelyn Kiley, associate director for research at the center said the upswing in pro-gun views is part of an ongoing trend, and that the public reaction to the Newtown shooting only “stunted that trend to some extent.”
Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research criticized the survey as misleading respondents by proving an incomplete picture. Webster said the survey suggests the regulation of gun sales restrict legal gun owner’s rights, whereas Webster believes gun restrictions primarily affect criminals and other dangerous people.
The Pew survey was conducted nationwide from Dec. 3 to 7 with 1,507 adults participating and has an error margin of three percentage points for all respondents.