Thursday, January 20, 2011

Heath Shuler, the Wild (Mid)West and Opinions on Gun Control

Following fears from the Arizona shooting, Heath Shuler now says he plans to carry a gun into public events.  This inspired me to look into public opinion on gun control--who supports it, who doesn't.  Evidently the folks at the Pew Center for the People and the Press had the same idea and fortunately, they've got a nice breakdown of what their data find.  They asked people whether they believe it is more important to control gun ownership or to protect the right of Americans to own guns.  Keep in mind that these data were collected in September, 2010--before the AZ shootings.  Data collected after the tragedy might shift opinion a bit.

The first lesson is that more Americans support protecting the rights of Americans to own guns than they did in the early 1990s.

So how does this vary?  Here are a few unsurprising stats:
  • Men are more likely than women to support gun rights (57%-37%). 
  • Republicans are more supportive of gun rights than Democrats (70%-30%)
  • Folks residing in rural areas support gun rights more than those living in urban areas (63%-38%)
  • Tea Party supporters are gun rights supporters (78% support).
Here are some surprising ones (at least to me):
  • The South is NOT the region of the country that is most supportive of gun rights.  That honor goes to the Midwest (52% support in the Midwest vs. 49% in the South, 44% in the West and 36% in the East).
  • People who make more than $75K are more supportive of gun rights than those who make less than $30K (49%-40%).
  • Registered voters are more supportive of gun rights than those who are not registered (51%-35%).

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