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October 9, 2009

"In U.S., Record-Low Support for Stricter Gun Laws"

Gun chartThe title of this post is the headline of this news release from the folks at Gallup.  Here are some of the statistical highlights from the latest Gallup poll on these topics:

Gallup finds a new low of 44% of Americans saying the laws covering firearm sales should be made more strict. That is down 5 points in the last year and 34 points from the high of 78% recorded the first time the question was asked, in 1990.

Today, Americans are as likely to say the laws governing gun sales should be kept as they are now (43%) as to say they should be made more strict. Until this year, Gallup had always found a significantly higher percentage advocating stricter laws. At the same time, 12% of Americans believe the laws should be less strict, which is low in an absolute sense but ties the highest Gallup has measured for this response.

These results are based on Gallup's annual Crime Poll, conducted Oct.1-4 this year.

The poll also shows a new low in the percentage of Americans favoring a ban on handgun possession except by the police and other authorized persons, a question that dates back to 1959. Only 28% now favor such a ban. The high point in support for a handgun-possession ban was 60% in the initial measurement in 1959. Since then, less than a majority has been in favor, and support has been below 40% since December 1993.

The trends on the questions about gun-sale laws and a handgun-possession ban indicate that Americans' attitudes have moved toward being more pro-gun rights. But this is not due to a growth in personal gun ownership, which has held steady around 30% this decade, or to an increase in household gun ownership, which has been steady in the low 40% range since 2000.

In light of this data and the trends, it is interesting to speculate whether Heller just represents another example of major modern Supreme Court rulings simply following and reinforcing existing political trends.  It is also interesting to speculate whether post-Heller rulings about gun rights and regulations may alter these long-standard trend lines in any significant way. 

October 9, 2009 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

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Comments

This really sort of makes sense. Several states have adopted concealed-carry laws, and none of them have repealed those laws (and many have seen decreases in violent crime). States with liberal gun laws have comparable or lower crime rates, as a general matter, to those that have strict gun laws.

The public is now catching on to the idea that many of the studies linking liberal gun laws to higher crime were based upon outmoded or unrepresentative research. Given that, as a general rule, the public doesn't like to be restricted from doing things unless there's a good reason for it, I'm not surprised in the least that their opinion is moving accordingly.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Oct 9, 2009 12:22:37 PM

What would be more interesting is what people think about stricter punishment for felons and repeat offenders carrying weapons.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Oct 9, 2009 12:29:11 PM

ITs quite interesting and great blog... loved and enjoyed to read this one ...

Posted by: torontto injury lawyer | Oct 9, 2009 3:31:46 PM

It's not just "several" states, it's 48 out of 50. DC's ban on carry is likely to fall shortly due to a new lawsuit and, presuming incorporation occurs, the remaining two hold-out states will as well.

Further, the majority of those states (38? 39?) are "shall-issue" which leaves no discretion for local authorities to deny a carry permit to a law-abiding citizen. Two states, Vermont and Alaska, require no permit whatsoever. The remaining "may-issue" carry laws, which are inherently discriminatory and challengeable on equal treatment grounds as currently enacted, are likely to be converted to "shall-issue" (as California's law is likely to be after the current court challenge in the Ninth Circuit).

The predictions of "blood running in the streets" and "gunfights over parking spaces" which were and are used as scare tactics by those opposed to the loosening of carry or other gun laws have been unequivocally demonstrated to be nonsense. Crime rates and permit revocations are uniform among states with varying degrees of carry and possession freedom, the degree of restrictiveness of laws appears to have no statistically significant negative effect on safety or crime.

The repetitive irrational crying of wolf and deliberate ignoring or denying of the solid science has cost the anti-gun movement almost all its credibility among even the tangentally informed.

Student

Posted by: Matthew Carberry | Oct 9, 2009 8:51:15 PM

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