Gun Laws & Legislation

Gun Rights Top Media Poll

By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation

Lost in the storm of hurricane coverage, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll demonstrates Americans’ growing support for gun rights.

The August survey of 1200 adults nationwide covers a range of current issues, including gun control.

Guns as a Voting Issue

When asked about the relative importance of issues when it comes time to vote, guns took the top slot. While the survey doesn’t show the split between those voting on gun rights vs. gun control, it’s clear that Americans see the Second Amendment as a major issue.

Now, let me read you a number of issues that create much discussion, but unlike foreign policy, national defense, and the economy, they sometimes do not get as much attention. Of these issues, which one or two, if any, are important enough to you to have an impact on how you vote in an election?

Chart: Issues Impacting Election Votes

On Government Regulation

Subsequent questions make it clear that gun rights supporters are not only more likely to be voting on the issue but are growing in number. When asked which of two statements was more concerning, a majority said: “The government will go too far in restricting the rights of citizens to own guns.” Compared to the same question asked in 1995, Americans are far less concerned that the government will not do enough to regulate access to firearms.

Chart: '95 vs '17 Government Gun Regulation Sentiment

Gun Rights Sentiment and Gun Ownership on the Rise

Driving this pro-Second Amendment sentiment is an increase in the number of respondents saying they have a gun in the household. As we have discussed here before, there is an understandable reluctance to report firearm ownership on public opinion surveys. While the 48 percent figure reported in this poll is likely lower than reality, it is worth noting the upward trend in households with firearms.

Chart: Upward trend in households with firearms

These three charts paint a clear picture. Americans care about their gun rights and are increasingly exercising those rights. With a majority of Americans concerned that the government will impose new gun control measures, elected officials can’t afford to ignore the results of this survey.

Larry Keane is the National Shooting Sports Foundation Sr. VP & General Counsel.