A Majority Of Americans Favor The Right To Keep And Bear Arms

Fact Sheet: A Majority Of Americans Favor The Right To Keep And Bear Arms

Several polls show that Americans are pro-gun. While affirming that the potential for bias exists in any given poll, there are, nevertheless, several scientific polls indicating that the right to keep and bear arms is revered — and gun control disdained — by a majority of Americans today:

* In 2002, an ABC News poll found that almost three-fourths of the American public believe that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of “individuals” to own guns.[1]

* Zogby pollsters found that by a more than 3 to 1 margin, Americans support punishing “criminals who use a gun in the commission of a crime” over legislation to “ban handguns.”[2]

* A Research 2000 poll found that 85% of Americans would find it appropriate for a principal or teacher to use “a gun at school to defend the lives of students” to stop a school massacre.[3]

* In a Time/CNN poll conducted just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, 61 percent said they favored allowing pilots to carry guns.4 A subsequent poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies found support for arming pilots had risen to almost seven in ten people (68 percent).[5]

* Shortly after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, a Colorado News poll showed that 65 percent of people surveyed favored a concealed-carry law allowing private citizens to carry firearms.[6] This finding shocked anti-gun spokesmen who felt that the then-recent tragedy should have suppressed support for gun rights in the state of Colorado. “What really surprises me is we’re at ground zero and I would expect our numbers to be higher,” said Arnie Grossman, co-founder of SAFE, an anti-gun group in Colorado. “I think it means we have a big job ahead of us.”[7]


[1]. Daniel Merkle, “America: It’s Our Right to Bear Arms: ABCNEWS.com Poll Finds Most Support Individuals’ Right to Own Guns,” ABCNEWS.com (May 14, 2002). The poll of 1,028 adults was conducted between May 8 and 12 of 2002. The poll found that after hearing the text of the Second Amendment verbatim, 73 percent of the American public viewed the amendment as guaranteeing an individual right. Only 20 percent thought the amendment guaranteed the right of a state to maintain a militia.

[2]. “Zogby American Values Poll Results,” The Washington Times (March 28, 2000).

[3]. Research 2000 of Rockville, Maryland. This survey was conducted from January 30 through February 1, 2002. A total of 1101 likely voters nationally were interviewed by telephone.

[4]. Nancy Wong, “American Confidence in Bush Remains High Post Attacks,” Harris Interactive (October 3, 2001) at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=369.

[5]. “Poll: Majority Support Guns in the Cockpit,” U.S. Newswire (May 14, 2002) at http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0514-127.html.

[6]. Carla Crowder, “Gun-Control Opinions Unchanged,” Denver Rocky Mountain News (May 20, 1999). The Colorado News Poll was conducted between May 6 – 16 of 1999 for the Denver Rocky Mountain News and News4 in Denver. Results were based on 600 random phone interviews with Coloradans.

7. Ibid.

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