Preference Cascade: Supermajority of Americans Believe Second Amendment Protects Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

(73-26).  A slightly smaller super-majority approves of the NRA (68-32).

Progressive gun grabbers, urban liberals, and LSM hardest hit.

It’s been fifty years in the making, but super-majorities now believe the Second Amendment actually means what it says:

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.

Better late than never. David Kopel buries the lede, but otherwise covers the issue well:


Public opinion about the National Rifle Association

By David Kopel | The Volokh Conspiracy

In April, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that the National Rifle Association was viewed favorably by 68% of Americans, and unfavorably by 32%. Unlike most polls, the Reuters poll apparently did not allow “unsure” or “undecided” as a choice. In each of the demographics which the poll provided–Republicans, Democrats, independents, whites, and blacks–the NRA was viewed favorably by at least 55%.

A 2005 Gallup Poll had found a 60/34 favorable/unfavorable view of the NRA. Previous Gallup results were 52/39 (May 2000), 51/39 (April 2000), 51/40 (April 1999, right after the Columbine High School murders), 42/51 (June 1995), and 55/32 (March 1993).

It is interesting to compare the NRA’s ratings with support for handgun control.  Since 1959, Gallup has been asking “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?” There have been some small changes in wording over the years, and the question is not a perfect test of support for handgun prohibition; some respondents might interpret “other authorized persons” simply as support for the licensing for handgun owners. However, the Gallup question is the closest thing there is to a 50-year gauge for sentiment for banning handguns.

In October 2011, Gallup found that 26% of Americans (a record low) thought that there should be such a law, and 73% did not. The 26/73 anti-/pro-handgun split is fairly close to the 32/68% anti-/pro-NRA split. After Columbine, 38% wanted the anti-handgun law, and 40% disapproved of NRA.

Likewise, Gallup in May 1993 found 54% in against the proposed law, and 55% approval for NRA.

Thus, generally speaking, over the last two decades, Americans who favor handgun prohibition appear to have accurately identified the NRA as a major obstacle to their wishes, and have viewed the NRA unfavorably. Americans who oppose handgun prohibition have viewed the NRA favorably for the same reason.

As American public opinion has evolved from a majority to a super-majority which supports the right to own a handgun, public opinion has likewise moved towards a super-majority with a favorable view of the NRA.

There are many causes for the evolution, but it seems plausible that at least part of the cause has been the increasing effectiveness of the NRA itself. To the extent that the NRA has convinced some Americans that handguns in the right hands are beneficial, then those Americans may have become more likely to view the NRA favorably. To the extent that popular NRA spokesmen (such as three-term NRA President Charlton Heston) or popular NRA programs (such as Eddie Eagle Gun Safety) have made some Americans view the NRA favorably, some of those Americans may have become less inclined to support handgun prohibition.

Because the NRA has (despite some fierce criticisms by Republicans, including in 2010) continued to support Democrats with good records on the Second Amendment, and to oppose Republicans with bad records, the NRA has avoided the problem of being identified with only a single political party. When an interest group supports only one party, that group will inevitably be viewed unfavorably by most members of the other political party.

And now that even long-time anti-gun advocates such as Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer have been affirming their support for the Second Amendment individual right, the basic premise with which the NRA is identified has become so widely supported that only politicians in very safe districts dare to dispute it publicly.


Note that the NRA has been consistent in supporting candidates who support the Second Amendment, and consistently opposed those who have not, regardless of party, a lesson numerous advocacy groups of the left would be well advised to take note of.

Gun Control is dead, long live the Second Amendment and the right of the People to keep and bear arms.

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  • jim_m

    “Gun Control is dead,”

    Not by a long shot.  The dems are all about a minority imposing its views upon the rest of the nation.  They are also in favor of pursuing their minority agenda until they force it down everyone’s throats. 

    We are dealing with a bunch of ideological elitists who believe that they possess special enlightenment that the rest of the world is too ignorant to understand.  How many times do you need to hear obama complain that it isn’t his policies that suck but it is just that he hasn’t explained them well enough for the public to understand? 

    • Well, jim_m, the gun grabbers have two problems:

      1.  No politician with national aspirations or who is not in a very safe seat dare argue for gun control, and even they will face some kind of challenge from the NRA.

      2.  The courts (the left’s preferred avenue when the voters are solidly against them) are bound by the two recent Supreme Court precedents which hold that the Second Amendment is both an individual right and binding against the states.

      Vigilance, as ever, will have to be maintained against the gun grabbers, and there will continue to be mopping up actions in the courts, but the hump is behind us.

      • It took a while, but somebody had finally based their argument not on “shall not be infringed,” but on “right of the people.” It got difficult for the Left to defend the notion that a “right of the people” was one held and exercised individually in every amendment it appeared but the Second.

      • jim_m

        I disagree on a couple of points.

        First that no politician will argue for gun control.  Perhaps I am splitting hairs but obama certainly is strongly anti-gun and while he doesn’t openly campaign for more gun control he does promise it in closed door meetings with his donors and he has been trying to create a case for more gun control with Fast & Furious. 

        Secondly, while it is unlikely that you could currently get gun control legislation through the House today that does not preclude administrative or executive actions that do exactly the same thing.  That in fact is obama’s current strategy and if he were to get a second term with control of the House and Senate like he had in his first 2 years, you would see him force through some very ugly laws that effectively removed people’s rights and we would be spending the better part of the next decade in courts to get them back assuming we succeeded.

        I think you seriously underestimate the left’s willingness to exceed the constitutional authority of any governmental position and their willingness to take your rights away and then keep them from you by tying you up in legal battles forever.  From the left’s point of view they do not have to pass constitutional legislation they just have to pass something that will keep you in court for a generation.

        • herddog505

          I agree.  While I’m sure that the left isn’t thrilled that the NRA has such popularity, the left couldn’t care less about the will of the people.  If they did, we wouldn’t have ObamaCare, would we?

  • ackwired

    Thank goodness!  I hope this means that we will quit hearing about the phantoms who are coming to take away our guns.

    • Spoken like a denialist of past gun grabbing excesses, and the reason that eternal vigilience is necessary.

      Thank you for demonstrating both points.

  • Commander_Chico

    Not surprising that support for a right to guns is rising.  If you can’t trust the government and can’t trust your neighbors, you might have to trust in your Bushmaster.

    People see what is coming:  the banana republic followed by social disorder followed by state oppression.

    • Sky__Captain

      Which is exactly why it is ABO in 2012, to prevent that from happening.

      • jim_m

         Chico wants obama to win so we can go directly to the “state oppression” phase.

        • Commander_Chico

          Obomney, Robama, both are for oligarchical control leading to state oppression.

          Either way, the camps are going to get built and filled.

          I’m not going to play in this sham of a “choice,” I’m voting for Gary Johnson.

          • herddog505

            Well, we know that one of Barry’s ideological soulmates and mentors openly mused about establishing camps and “eliminating” Americans who might be a tad hesitant to get a first-class ticket for the Great Leap Forward Express.  Has Romney got similar associations?  Or do you suspect him of such murderous intent because he’s devoutly religious, made a couple of bucks in his life and has a (very nominal) R behind his name?

          • Commander_Chico

            Is there a warlike and oppressive measure or slogan, including expanding Gitmo, fighting in Syria, and beefing with Russia, that Romney has not endorsed?

          • herddog505

            Being tough on defense and national security is NOT the same thing as planning to round up and “eliminate” people who don’t agree with one’s political vision.

            As for “beefing” with Russia, THEY are the ones making the Cold War noises, not us.

          • jim_m

             Being tough on defense and national security is NOT the same thing as
            planning to round up and “eliminate” people who don’t agree with one’s
            political vision.

            With the exception that for the left that is EXACTLY what being tough is all about.  That is why Chico leaps to the assumption that Romney’s rhetoric presages just that. 

            When a leftist accuses you of desiring to create a fascist state it is almost always because that is exactly what they would be doing.

          • Commander_Chico

            I don’t “leap to the assumption” that Romney means anything he says, but how else can you judge the guy?

            Saying dumb things is dumb whether you mean them or not.

          • jim_m

             Show me where Romney has been saying that he wants to eliminate people who disagree with him.  Show me where Romney has been in favor of state oppression.

          • Commander_Chico
          • jim_m

            Torturing terrorists is not state oppression

          • Commander_Chico

            ha, ha, what if they decide you’re a “terrorist?” They have the “laws” in place to do that.

          • jim_m

             I don’t fear Romney declaring domestic political opponents as terrorists whereas the democrats have already done that with the TEA Party.

            Once again you are projecting.

          • Like “57 states” and “America is not a Christian nation”?

          • Commander_Chico

            Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe???”  

            That is pretty dumb. 

          • jim_m

             So you will vote for a cipher who has no chance of winning.  The real choice is between obama, a man who has already declared that his goal is to turn the US into a socialist (if not outright communist) country and is interested in removing any checks and balances in our system in order to set up a de facto dictatorship, and Romney, who is a big government conservative who will work within the system and will not try to turn this nation into a socialist dictatorship.

            By voting for the cipher you effectively cast your vote in favor of the man who wants a corrupt socialist authoritarian government. Your vote is still a vote or obama.

          • Commander_Chico

            You know I could rewrite your comment from the viewpoint of an Obamabot, with the last line being – – Your vote is still a vote for Romney.

            It’s neither: it’s a vote against both of them, and a vote for Gary Johnson.

          • jim_m

             You are essentially correct.  Since the election is ultimately between those two choices a vote for anyone else is ultimately a vote for the other option. 

          • Vagabond661

            Right Chico, just like a vote for Ross Periot was a vote for…oh hey..waitaminute……….turns out it was a vote for Clinton since he was elected by less than 43% of the electorate.

          • Commander_Chico

            How do you know that Perot’s votes would have gone more to Bush?

          • With Perot’s stance being significantly more fiscally conservative that Bush (and very much more so than Clinton) – I have a hard time thinking that Perot would have pulled many votes that would have gone for Clinton otherwise.

            Aside from sheer novelty value of voting for him, that is…

          • In other words, you are voting for Obama.

          • Jwb10001

            Actually in Chico’s case I think his is a vote Obama will lose.

          • jim_m

             I have stated before that his vote is one that is intended to give him the ability to pose as being against obama while doing nothing to actively oppose obama or his policies. That is the effective outcome of his voting for Johnson.  Chico wants to be able to support obama’s direction for this country while giving lip service to opposing it. 

            His opposition to the “oligarchy” is little more than a facade.

          • Well, Chico, the “camps” may get filled, but the “occupants” may not be those originally intended. 300,000,000 People with 300,000,000 guns aren’t exactly what I would call volunteers. I know which side I’ll be on, and I damned sure won’t wind up in a “camp”.

  • herddog505

    Two thoughts:

    1.  I have read that gun ownership, especially among women, is increasing.  When one makes the choice to own a firearm, it’s reasonable to assume that he’s going to look with favor on an organization dedicated to upholding his right to do so;

    2.  The NRA, though frequently demonized by MiniTru (one meme in the Zimmerman case has been that the NRA is responsible for the SYG and “Castle Doctrine” laws that allow people to murder innocent minority children who are merely walking back from the 7-11), has pretty much stayed focused on one thing; they haven’t (as unions have done) branched off into abortion, gay marriage, health care, or any other hot button issues that might cost them support.

    At any rate, I’m glad to see this level of approval for the NRA.

    Say… anybody know the level of approval for the ACLU?

    • I just did some Google searching and failed to find any national polls concerning approval of the ACLU…

      That would seem to indicate that either there are no such polls, or that any such have been made hard to find.

  • Commander_Chico

    Say… anybody know the level of approval for the ACLU?

    The Bill of Rights, particularly the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, does not poll very well.

    • herddog505

      That’s true, I suppose.  Libs in particular seem to have such a down against that moldy, dusty, racist, outdated stumbling-block against progress that we like to call the Constitution.

      • Commander_Chico

        That’s why staunch “conservatives” (by which I mean right wing corporatist statists) love the ACLU and its fight for “technicalities.”

        • jim_m

           No one on the right “loves” the ACLU.  The ACLU more often than not represents left wing concerns and lets the rights of conservative people and groups go undefended.  If that were not the case there would not be the necessity for all the organizations that have sprung up  in the last 20 years to defend religious and speech rights of conservatives.  The ACLU was founded by left wing radicals and today it lives up to that origin.

        • [citation required]

          In support of allegation:

          That’s why staunch “conservatives” (by which I mean right wing corporatist statists) love the ACLU and its fight for “technicalities.”

          • Commander_Chico

            [Face palm]  

            I was being sarcastic.  We know right-wing corporatist statists hate the “technicalities” of the Bill of Rights, since they worship the police state.

        • I find it amazing that the Amalgamation of Commies, Leftists, and Undesireables has so valiantly defended every Right except the Right to exist.

  • Gmacr1

    Considering that the best stock market investment for the last 4 years has been stock in companies that manufacture firearms and firearms related items I see this as no surprise.

    Companies have added shifts and ammunition manufacturers run 24/7 with line shut downs only for maintenence and major holidays. Ruger cannot keep up with orders and is backlogged for months of production.

    Firearms ownership has been steadily rising since the turn of the century, thanks in no small part to citizens deciding that the goverment was not there to protect them and that police departments were nothing more than forensic investigation squads who investigated crimes and did little, if anything, to prevent them.

    As for the NRA? They are in the buisiness of supporting anyone that defends the 2nd Amendment right to own firearms, scumbags like Harry Reid included. They also tend to come in behind legal cases after they appear to be winning like District of Columbia v. Heller. IMO they compromise with the enemy to often.

  • Conservachef

    Gun Control is dead…

    Rodney, as others have said, I respectfully disagree. Instead of outright assaults on the 2nd Amendment, the gun control advocates will work under the radar..

    Yes, things are moving in a positive direction for gun owners. But now isn’t the time to pack up and go home waving “we won” banners. I think eternal vigilance is necessary to defend this right- a right that we know is a target.

    • jim_m

       Gun control as a matter of federal legislation may be, for the time being, a dead issue.  However, if we have learned anything form the obama admin it is that the left is willing to circumvent the constitution and impose their will on the majority by any means possible.  

      When former Senator Russ Feingold (D- WI) ranted that “Nothing is over until WE WIN!” he was inadvertently stating the core belief of how the left deals with politics.  Nothing is over until they get their way and once that has happened then everything is settled for all eternity. 

      For the left democracy is not about participation in an open dialogue with many differing opinions, it is about gaming the system until they can force their desired outcome and then discontinuing any further discussion on the matter.  For the left democracy is just a game they play because they have to.  They would much prefer a dictatorship.

      • Conservachef

         From a political standpoint, I’d say that Fast&Furious was an attempt to sway opinion in favor of stricter gun control.

        So that, combined with “little” chips at the 2nd Amendment, like regulations on magazine capacity, licensing & purchasing restrictions, etc., should remind us that the gun control crowd are probably merely biding their time, not giving up.

        Instead of outright bans- a’la the “assault weapons” ban, I expect to see a zillion small attempts to box-in the 2nd Amendment. The “death by a million papercuts” strategy.

        But yes, from a federal standpoint, it may be quiet. I think they need things to move public opinion to their favor, and there hasn’t really been anything like that lately.

  • Idahoser

    politicians rarely propose to outright ban guns (with the exception of the moonbats, of course).  They even get to call themselves having NRA support as long as what they propose is just a little tightening of the noose in the name of “safety”.  You can thank the NRA for Harry Reid’s current term in office, for example.  No way can that be justified, but they did it.