Reducing gun violence isn’t just about what policies will work. It is also about changing hearts and minds of the electorate. There is a Christian duty in both. While the focus may be turning to Washington and away from Newtown, we must not forget that politics are also local.
The Pew Research Center for People and the Press summarizes their poll findings:
The public’s attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Currently, 49% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.
This marks the first time since Barack Obama took office that more Americans prioritize gun control than the right to own guns. Opinion was evenly divided in July, following a shooting at a Colorado movie theater. At that time, 47% said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46% said it was more important to protect gun rights.
However, support for gun control remains lower than before Obama took office. In April 2008, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership; just 37% prioritized protecting gun rights.
As in the past, there are wide partisan and demographic differences in opinions about gun control. Majorities of men, whites and Republicans say it is more important to protect gun rights. By contrast, most women, blacks, Democrats and those in the Northeast prioritize controlling gun ownership. In other regions, opinion is divided.
There are deeply held opinions on both sides when it comes to the choice between controlling gun ownership and protecting gun rights: 42% strongly believe it is more important to control gun ownership, while 37% strongly feel it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 17-19 among 1,219 adults, finds a higher percentage saying that gun ownership in this country does more to protect people from crime (48%) than to put their safety at risk (37%).
However, about two-thirds (65%) think that allowing citizens to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous. Just 21% say that permitting these types of weapons makes the country safer.
There is widespread public opposition to a ban on handguns: Two-thirds (67%) oppose banning the possession of handguns, except by law enforcement officers. Far more favor banning bullets designed to explode or penetrate bullet-proof vests (56%) and high capacity ammunition clips (53%). Opinion is divided over whether to ban semi-automatic guns – 44% favor such a ban, while 49% are opposed.