Why most Americans oppose more gun control

GunShow_ap_012313_2A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, for the first time in their surveys, the majority of Americans oppose more gun control. Gallup and CNN polls tell a similar story. Opposition to gun control has been increasing over at least the last couple of decades.

Gun control groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to convince Americans that gun control is the answer. In 2013, gun owners’ groups — including the NRA — spent less than one seventh as much on television advertisements. This year looks to be even more lopsided, thanks to the unrelenting efforts of individuals such as Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and Gabriel Giffords.

Perceptions have changed dramatically, with most people now believing the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis. Gallup recently asked Americans if they thought residents are safer with a gun in the home. People answered “Yes” by a margin of 63 to 30 percent. In 2000, Americans gave just the opposite answer by a margin of 51 to 35 percent. In 2013,  Sixty percent of gun owners listed “Personal Safety/Protection” as the reason for owning a gun.

Academic research aligns with current public opinion. If you have a gun in the home, that gun is far more likely to prevent murder than it is to be used in an accidental shooting or to kill a loved one.

Accidental gun deaths get a lot of press coverage, but the press is quite misleading when it talks about juvenile gun deaths . In fact, news reports lump in young deaths involving gang fights. These deaths are also tragic, but they have nothing to do with whether law-abiding citizens should own guns.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that, in 2012, there were 58 accidental gun deaths involving children under the age of 15. More than 20 times as many children died due to accidental suffocation. In most cases, an adult accidentally shoots a child, not children shooting themselves or other children. And many of those adults have criminal records and drug or alcohol problems.

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of concealed handgun permits soared from about 2.7 million to well over 12 million.  Similarly, the annual number of federal background checks increased from 8.5 to 21 million. According to Gallup, 42 percent of Americans now have a gun in the home.

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