April 8, 2008

Gallup Poll: Public Believes Americans Have Right to Own Guns

A solid majority of the U.S. public, 73%, believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. Twenty percent believe the amendment only guarantees the rights of state militia members to own guns.

The Supreme Court will soon weigh in on this issue, after recently hearing the arguments in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Washington, D.C., ban on handgun ownership by city residents is facing a Second Amendment challenge.

The precise language of the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The often fierce debate over the Second Amendment has centered on whether it was intended to protect the rights of all Americans to own guns, or only those who are members of state militia groups.

The poll makes it clear which side Americans come down on. Gun owners (roughly one-third of the U.S. adult population) are nearly universal in endorsing the view that the Second Amendment guarantees their right to own guns. Non-owners are less likely to view the amendment this way, but a majority still do.

While the American public backs the view that gun ownership is a constitutional right, Americans favor having legal restrictions on it. In the same poll, 49% favor stricter gun laws than exist now and 38% would like to see gun laws remain as they are. Just 11% advocate gun laws that are less strict.

The practical outcome of the case will be whether the Washington, D.C., handgun ban will be allowed to stand. In general, the public opposes sweeping bans on handguns. In the most recent Gallup Crime Poll, conducted last October, Americans opposed a law that would ban possession of handguns except by police and other authorized persons by 68% to 30%.

Comments (15)

"no one, including the Civil Liberties Union, would argue that the term people could mean anything other than the private citizen."

Greg W, and others that I read--

Why do people seem to thing the ACLU is some leftist and anti-gun group? Anyone who REALLY followed the Heller case would know they filed amicus for the plaintiff. They are for civil rights, and the 2a is a civil right.

If you let the government get away with violating any right of any person, it is only a matter of time till it reaches you. If they aren't defending the rights of child molesters or what-have you, who will? Certainly not me, but if someone doesn't, it will come down next on a less horrific offense, then less and less till it affects every American.

Let me use a more recent example that I didn't like-- a suit in TX on behalf of landlords. The suit was against the law requiring landlords to check for citizenship status. I was all for the law, but it was fought on the basis that the responsibility is not that of the landlords. Imagine if that law was requiring landlords to check if you gun owner. If that law was let fly, the government could be requiring landlords to be checking for anything they want later.

Anyway, I am not saying you have to like what they do even though I was trying to sway you-- what I want is for people to be informed. The civil liberties union is for civil rights, regardless of who or what side(right-left) of the government is violating rights.

Posted by: computererds | May 13, 2008 9:58 AM    Report this comment

People who are oppossed to gun ownership seem to be blind to the implications that disablement of any one of the freedoms endowed by our constitution can potentially have on all other individual rights. My greatest fear is not that government might fail to respect and ensure the rule of law but rather the unquestioned willingness by so many to risk the loss of much broader individual rights in order to obtain nothing more than an illusion of security and safety. - Greg Demars

Posted by: Gregory D | April 11, 2008 3:08 PM    Report this comment

We all agree, but we are preaching to the choir. Talk to your friends,write polite, reasoned letters to the editor. If we change just one mind we are ahead. However, don't be surprised when your best arguments are ignored. One of my clients was Senator Moynahan. He listened politly to my logic and said "Ward I grant you all your points, but I don't care." At least he was honest, unlike most democrats who promise to respect our rights while writing laws to disarm us.

Posted by: lefty | April 11, 2008 10:57 AM    Report this comment

73%! We supposedly have a government that responds to the rule of the majority. So this issue should be at "game over".

The scary number in this Gallup poll is the 49% who think stricter gun control laws are needed. This tells me that the NRA needs to get some focus on this problem. No, I don't need a 50 cal or full auto but don't tell me I can't have one.

I have always been supportive of license laws that require training but because of the deviousness of the anti-gun crowd this is not a tenable position. Reason does not apply. If it could, I would agree that the laws need to be rationalized but it can't so "Don't tread on me".

Posted by: Peter Crowell | April 10, 2008 6:57 PM    Report this comment

To quote Charlton Heston "From my cold dead hands!"

Posted by: STEVE H | April 9, 2008 10:06 AM    Report this comment

This country was built by a belief in God given rights including the right to self defense. From the Pilgrims until today Americans have always had the RIGHT to keep and bear arms.

Posted by: Ronald L | April 9, 2008 8:03 AM    Report this comment

Since the Constitution also states that any right NOT specifically given to the Government is retained by the people (i.e. private citizens)therefore the people have the right to keep & bear arms, the gov't does not.
How bout start by disarming the ATFE?

Posted by: charlielima | April 9, 2008 7:28 AM    Report this comment

I believe that the 2nd amendment is exactly what it is, a right for the people by the people. It is the only right that make all other rights possible. As for the current problems with this amendment, I believe that only strict punishment for those who take this right to comment wrong is the only answer, not stricter gun laws or even worse taking this god given right away. In other words, we as a people need to quit being pansies and actually start punishing the criminals instead of the gun owners, dealers, and makers.

Posted by: WILLIAM D | April 8, 2008 10:19 PM    Report this comment

I agree- the PEOPLE'S right shall not be infringed.

Posted by: KURT L. H | April 8, 2008 9:30 PM    Report this comment

The founding fathers were very careful with their language. When they meant to confer a right or obligation on the federal government they used the term "congress". When they meant the various states they used the term "states". When they meant the private citizen they used the term "people". By my count the term "people" is used 7 times in the constitution. 6 of these times, such as in the first amendmendment", no one, including the Civil Liberties Union, would argue that the term people could mean anything other than the private citizen. Why then,would the founding fathers mean otherwise in the second amendment?
Furthermore, the supreme court of the United States has held that a term used in a legal document must hold the same meaning throughout the document. Finally, the bill of rights as a whole is meant to confirm and protect the rights of the citizens, not of the government.

Posted by: lefty | April 8, 2008 8:04 PM    Report this comment

I'M NOT American , but i beleive you americans are right you have that right don't give it up.
We in Canada are fighting a tough battle but right is right and we shall prevail .good luck, keep your powder dry.

Posted by: greg w | April 8, 2008 6:35 PM    Report this comment

"rights" were clearly intented for the people, not the Government!

Posted by: Joseph G | April 8, 2008 6:32 PM    Report this comment

It seems to me that the 2nd Amendment, as with the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights was directed at the individual.

Posted by: Mark G | April 8, 2008 6:23 PM    Report this comment

RevTony, great comparison!

Posted by: STEVE R | April 8, 2008 4:10 PM    Report this comment

Saying that the 2d Amendment does not apply to the individuals' rights to own firearms is like saying that the other amendments allowing freedom of the press, free speach and assembly apply only to newspaper publishers, owners and reporters - or even worse, to only elected officials!

Posted by: RevTony | April 5, 2008 8:31 PM    Report this comment

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