Poll finds majority wants security more than gun rights

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Which do you prefer: Security or your gun rights?

You’re probably shaking your head right now because you get that this is a bit of a trick question. The two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means. In fact, one’s gun rights may well be essential in providing security.


But a recent poll suggests that many Americans may not feel the same way.

The highest percentage of Americans in a decade say they think it’s more important to curb gun violence than protect gun rights, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

The finding comes a year after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the second-deadliest in American history. Multiple other mass shootings that have taken place in the time since that one.

But the survey of almost 1,300 adults also shows Americans’ views on guns are mixed, with little consensus on what to do about gun violence.

Fewer Americans say they feel their community’s schools are safe from gun violence. And while a significant majority feels the answer to mass shootings is stricter gun laws, the percentage believing the solution is more people needing to carry guns has jumped 10 points in the last four years.

6 in 10 say controlling gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights

That’s the highest in 10 years and includes 4 in 10 gun owners.

In 2013, people were split on this. But Democrats and many independents have shifted since.


This isn’t good news, to say the least.

If, in fact, 40 percent of gun owners think their gun rights are secondary to safety concerns, then we have a problem.

However, there’s an issue with the poll, as I’m sure you’re shocked to learn.

It seems they asked the question in a binary way. “Do you think it is more important to:” and then the choices are “protect gun rights,” “control gun violence,” or “unsure.”

Well, if presented with just these three options, it’s unsurprising we got 60 percent favoring gun control over gun rights.

For one thing, people have a tendency not to want people to think ill of them, so they’re likely to tell a pollster what they think will make them look better. Some respondents may have been more than willing to say “control gun violence” just because they didn’t want to be judged.

Plus, this isn’t as binary as presented here.

NPR notes that more people actually do think the answer is more people carrying guns. That suggests that while people may favor controlling gun violence, they actually believe gun rights are the answer to that.


Further, let’s not forget that we don’t decide what are rights are by a popularity poll. That’s not how they work, and that’s a very good thing. At some point or another, all kinds of rights have come under the microscope and been attacked, often backed up by polling showing most people agreed with the attackers.

It doesn’t matter, though, because unpopular rights are still rights. So whether it was burning the American flag in protest or Nazis marching through the streets of Skokie, popularity is irrelevant anyway.

If that doesn’t matter in free speech, it doesn’t matter when it comes to gun rights.

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