February 14, 2011

Deep Partisan Divide on Guns

70%

More than seven-in-ten Republicans say protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, while nearly as many Democrats say gun control is more important.

In a poll taken just after the tragic shootings in Tucson, Ariz., the American public remained sharply divided over guns. Half of Americans (49%) said it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while nearly as many (46%) said it is more important to control gun ownership. Opinion on guns divides sharply along partisan lines. Republicans, by an overwhelming 72%-to-22% margin, said it is more important to protect gun rights. Democrats, by an equally impressive 70%-to-26% margin, said it is more important to control gun ownership. Independents are more divided, with 52% favoring gun rights and 44% prioritizing gun control. In polls dating back to the early 1990s, Republicans have always been more likely than Democrats to prioritize gun ownership over gun control. Overwhelming support for gun ownership, however, is relatively new. In polls taken in 1993 and 1999, fewer than half of Republicans prioritized gun ownership over gun control. Support of gun ownership among Republicans has risen dramatically since 2007. Independents, however, have also seen a sharp increase in support for gun ownership in the past few years. Read More