A few days ago, a report was released by the Pew Research Center that should put a smile on gun owners’ faces.
In short, the study documents a sea-change in opinion regarding the right to keep and bear arms. For the first time in more than two decades, American citizens support gun rights more than gun control.
From the report’s introduction:
Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.
There are few reasons why the shift is particularly heartening. First, it has occurred across nearly every demographic, no matter race, geographical region or sex. Next, it comes on the heels of the Newtown tragedy of two years ago, when it appeared opinions were set to break the other direction. And finally, American's changing perspective doesn’t only pertain to gun ownership as a Civil Right. Also documented in the report is the shift in opinion that firearms are practical tools in avoiding becoming a victim of crime:
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults, also finds a shift in attitudes about whether gun ownership in this country does more to protect people or put people’s safety at risk. Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% say it does more to endanger personal safety.
On this point, the shift has nearly been across the board, as well. But there has been three demographics in particular that have lead the way. African Americans, women and Conservative Republicans all saw double-digit swings in viewing gun ownership as a way to protect again crime victimhood.
This shift was particularly pronounced in the African American community. Two years ago in the last Pew study on this topic, only 29 percent of African Americans viewed gun ownership as a tool to protect against crime. This time around, 54 percent of that community see gun in this light – a 25-point swing!
There are a number of reasons why the swing concerning firearms have occurred. As has been pointed out in a number of recent articles, current events, such as the Furguson, Mo., riots, and long-term trends, such as plummeting crime rates, play their roles. I believe the Internet smashing the ability of gatekeeper journalists (that is the mainstream media) to deliver their preferred narrative has also had an effects.
Whatever the root cause, however, a Christian Science Monitor article, perhaps best summed up the impact of this sea-change:
The shift in views makes for grim reading for gun control advocates, who, according to Pew, have lost support among every demographic except Hispanics and liberal Democrats. City-dwellers, women, and blacks moved particularly hard toward a view put forth by pro-gun rights researcher John Lott: that an armed society is a polite society.