Dramatic polling shift on gun rights

The American public now believes, by a six-point margin, that guns do more to protect people than put people at risk.  This reverses the attitude that had prevailed since Newtown and continues a long-term trend in favor of gun rights.

The Pew Research Center for the People and Press poll provides some very interesting insights on the politics of gun rights, in addition to tracking the overall figure.

 Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

The latest poll, taken between December 3 and 7, comes in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri that saw shop owners helplessly watch their lives’ work destroyed by rampaging mobs.  Thanks, Ferguson protesters!

Of most interest to political junkies, the demographic breakdown of polling results revels that Democrats are out of step with the general public:

Partisan differences on this question, already sizeable in 2012, have widened over the last two years. As was the case in December 2012, a majority of Democrats (60%) say guns do more to put people’s safety at risk, while only about a third (35%) say they do more to protect people from becoming crime victims. By contrast, eight-in-ten Republicans say guns do more to protect people from becoming crime victims, up 17-points from 2012. (snip)

Conversely, a majority of Democrats say that it is more important to control gun ownership (69%) than to protect the right of Americans to own guns (28%). Liberal Democrats, in particular, prioritize controlling gun ownership (81% say this, while just 14% say protecting gun rights is more important).

So the GOP agrees with the general public, only more so, while the Democrats’ views are out of step with what the public wants.

The point often made on this site that blacks are the biggest victims of crime (and riots like Ferguson) probably has some bearing on this change:

Over the past two years, blacks’ views on this measure have changed dramatically. Currently, 54% of blacks say gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger personal safety, nearly double the percentage saying this in December 2012 (29%). By contrast, whites’ views have shown less change: 62% now view guns as doing more to protect people, up from 54% in December 

I can only imagine that the continuing unrest over Eric Garner’s death is helping to convince more Americans that gun ownership is helpful to them in protecting themselves.  As many know, Berkeley, California is no haven for gun rights supporters, but I wonder if any minds are being changed by the four straight days of rioting and looting.