A series of gun-related tragedies, most recently the church massacre in Charleston, has sparked a heated conversation in the United States about gun laws and the Second Amendment, leaving the country divided over personal freedoms and personal safety.
The latest polling data from both CNN/ORC and Pew Research Center concluded that there is more support to protect the ability to possess guns than to restrict gun ownership. According to a statement from Pew, this is the first time the survey data has shown this kind of trend in more than two decades.
Specifically, in December 2014, Pew Research Center released a study that stated 52 percent of Americans said it was, “more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership.”
According to a March 2013 CNN/ORC poll, 55 percent of Americans thought there, “should be only minor or no restrictions at all on owning guns.”
In the same December 2014 poll conducted by Pew, 57 percent of Americans said gun ownership in the United States protects people, while 38 percent said gun ownership in the U.S. does more to put people’s safety at risk than protect them.
However, with support for gun liberties on the rise, overall gun ownership is declining.
A General Social Survey, which has been tracking gun ownership in surveys since 1872, has found that 31 percent of households reported owning a gun in 2014, which is down from approximately half of households in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Additionally, as President Barack Obama expressed in his speech on Thursday, gun control is highly politicized. Democrats especially have shown disappointment with Obama’s handling of gun policy, according to a CNN/ORC poll released in spring 2014 just 54 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of liberals said they approved.
The November 2013 CNN/ORC poll showed that 71 percent of Democrats supported stricter gun laws, in contrast to 65 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents who were opposed to them.