Growing Public Support for Gun Rights

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, the company specializing in public opinion polling report there is more support for gun rights than gun control.

In the most recent results released this week, 52 percent of respondents said it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46 percent believe in controlling gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the tragic Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults, also found a shift in attitudes about whether gun ownership in the U.S. does more to protect people or put people’s safety at risk. Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57 percent) said gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38 percent believe it does more to endanger personal safety.

The Pew Research Center’s Andrew Kohut reported the most recent finding in The Wall Street Journal last week.

Noting that the public’s perception are at odds with what has actually been a decrease in violent crime over the last two decades, Kohut wrote, “In short, we are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership — not gun control — makes people safer.”

In firearms-related economic news, a new report released this week by the primary trade association representing the industry indicated that the total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the U.S. grew from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $42.9 billion in 2014 — a 125 percent increase.

The report, compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), also indicated growth was mirrored in the number of “full-time equivalent jobs” within the gun and ammo industry, which rose from approximately 166,000 to more than 263,000, a 58 percent increase. The jobs were within companies supplying goods and services to manufacturers, distributors and retailers, as well as those that depend on sales to workers in the firearms and ammunition industry.

“Wildlife conservation is the real winner here, as we increased federal tax payments by 108 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 145 percent and state business taxes by 106 percent,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer. “And gratifyingly, throughout this period of growth, both criminal and accidental misuses of firearms continued to drop.”

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