Americans now favor gun ownership to gun control, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Wednesday, which reports a “substantial shift in attitudes” since the days immediately after the Sandy Hook shooting.
Pew surveyed about 1,500 adults nationwide between Dec. 3 and Dec. 7. Their results suggest that, for the first time in 20 years, 52 percent of Americans prioritize protecting gun rights over controlling gun ownership. Forty-six percent favored controlling gun ownership.
“Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday,” the report reads. “The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later.”
The poll also suggests that people increasingly believe gun ownership protects people from becoming crime victims rather than puts their safety at risk. According to the poll, Americans now feel safer with guns 57-38 percent.
The Pew report comes as some gun control advocates have renewed a push for new firearm regulations coinciding with the shooting’s second anniversary. Two groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, released a report this week that counted 95 school shootings since Newtown.
Ron Pinciaro, president of the CT Voters for Gun Safety, disputed the poll’s results based on the wording of the questions, specifically the poll’s use of the phrase “control gun ownership.” He said other surveys have favored what he said should be referred to as “gun violence prevention” policies.
“When they’re using the term ‘gun control,’ there’s kind of a bias attached to that. I would expect that that’s how the data would come out,” he said. “The only time I see that term used is when someone wants to inflict a bias.”
Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said he believes the poll results accurately reflect the public’s position on the issue.
“I am not surprised to see the outcome of this poll. I do believe that after a shock period when a tragedy such as Sandy Hook occurs, people realize that law enforcement can’t be everywhere to protect people and it falls to people to protect themselves. The rational side of humanity eventually takes over,” he said.