Black Americans have drastically shifted their attitudes toward guns in a pro-ownership direction in recent years, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.
Out of all demographic and political groups in the Pew poll — which surveyed 1,507 adults between Dec. 3 and Dec. 7 — blacks showed the biggest shift from believing that guns increase risk to personal safety to believing that guns do more to protect people from becoming victims of crime.
Between December 2012, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, and December 2014, there was a nine-point pro-gun swing among all people polled by Pew. Women and Republicans saw and 11-point and 17-point pro-gun shifts, respectively.
But among blacks, there was a 25-point swing toward the belief that guns provide more benefits than risks. Whites’ attitudes toward guns moved in the same direction, but only increased by eight points.
In Dec. 2012, only 29 percent of blacks believed that guns “protect people from being crime victims.” Fifty-three percent believed that guns “put people’s safety at risk.”
According to the recent poll, 54 percent of blacks said they believed that guns provide protection. Forty-one percent believed that they are too risky.
In 2012, 54 percent of whites said they thought guns provided protection from crime while 33 percent said they increase risk. In the recent poll, 62 percent of whites thought guns help stop crime while 34 percent said guns increase risk.
The Pew poll was touted when it was released earlier this week because it showed that for the first time in more than two decades, a majority of Americans — 52 percent — said they believe it is important to protect gun-ownership rights, while 46 percent said gun control measures are more important.
In 1993, the first year that Pew Research asked the question, 57 percent favored greater gun control. Only 34 percent said it was more important to protect gun owners’ rights.