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Posted by on Dec 21, 2012 in At TMV, Featured, Law, Society | 8 comments

Pew Poll: Most Gun Owners Think Assault Weapons Make Us Less Safe

Bushmaster rifleUpdated: There may be issues with defining what an “assault weapon” is, but according to todays news from Pew:

Half of those with a gun in the household (50%) say allowing citizens to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous for citizens, fewer (34%) say this makes this country safer.

That is huge, given that most people in the country don’t own guns. Of the almost two-thirds (according to Pew) of us who do not own guns, 64% favor controlling ownership.

As a general statement, according to this latest poll we are willing to control the sale of ammo more than guns.

  • 56% favor banning bullets that explode or can penetrate bullet-proof vests; 36% oppose
  • 53% favor banning high-capacity ammunition clips that can hold more than 10 bullets; 42% oppose

hand gunVery few support banning HAND guns which, I’m pretty sure, are pictured in folks’ minds as pistols, not revolvers, based on Hollywood.

What sort of political will will Congress express? Will rural views (gun “rights”) trump urban ones (“safety”)?

And I don’t think the NRA proposal to put armed guards in every school is going to pass muster, even with gun owners.

The overall survey has a 95% confidence, +/- 3.4 points. The margin of error increases when analyzing sub-groups.


  • Reordered -> moved my NRA observation to the closing graph.
  • The Pew questions seem to rely on perceptions of what words mean (“clips”) versus how gun owners use the words. I’m more interested in perceptions than specifics, because perception is the first step towards getting to specifics, which is the province of Congress and lobbyists. That’s why I led with the perception expressed by people who own guns. It’s not that different from the perception of the public at large.
  • I also agree that the issue with gun violence in America isn’t limited to mass murders. I understand the difference in attitude in rural areas, where law enforcement may be a half-hour away, and urban centers. I also understand that the crime rate is a helluva lot lower in those rural areas, so the risk of robbery etc is lower there.
  • As I’ve stated elsewhere: I grew up with guns. (I am from the rural south, after all.) I shot at an early age. And I’ve shot at a range (only once) here in suburban Seattle.
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  • PLENTY of chatter on my Facebook post 1 and Facebook post 2.

  • dduck

    KG, thanks for pointing out that a majority of gun owners (I’m not one) favor some constructive measures for gun and magazine control. Too often, commenters lump everyone together so the discussion can be better framed as we are against all those bad guys. No room for 50 (or fewer) shades of gray, just put everyone in one pigeon hole.
    BTW: I hope Pew didn’t use “assault” in their question, because what we are talking about now are NOT assault, but are semi-automatics. Gun owners might know the difference and respond incorrectly.

  • hyperflow

    I shot a MP5 at a gun range, but I dont own a gun at home.

    ME “wow, I never shot an automatic weapon before”.
    Other guy “that wasn’t an automatic, it was a semi-auto”

    ME: “really? whats the difference? ”
    Other guy “you have to pull the trigger repeatedly you can’t just hold it”

    These guns are for shooting multiple targets, not defense against a burglar trying to steal your flat screen TV.
    Oh, your fighting the the government, US military? Tell me what an MP5 does to a tank, helicopters, and bombs?

    There is no reason for these guns.
    Even at a gun range, what’s the point?

  • Thanks, guys.

    DD -> actually we are talking about assault weapons in the context of the 1994 law. Not all semi-automatics are quasi-military weapons.

    HF -> these are “detuned” (my word) military weapons.

  • dduck

    KG, exact wording is important in polls like these. If the questioner used “assault”, then it was incorrect.

  • ascpgh

    Pew is notorious for slicing things thinly. It should be said that not every household where ONE person has a gun is a population set of homogenous beliefs, values or interests.

    This outcome is fluff meant to take advantage of some very bad events and a very bad (or mentally incompetent) individual. It amounts to partisan banner-waving by the anti-gun faction.

    The “assault rifle” construct is one designed to elicit negative reaction among the uninformed (the swing-vote group in November). Among a group possessing graduate degrees in my workplace I was shocked that someone said “no one needs to own an assault rifle; one shot each time you pull the trigger is enough”. By being uninformed they have again granted their inertia in numbers to someone else, and in this case a group with an agenda to be propelled by ignorance, that of the intellectual incompetents and those capable but resistant to learning the semantic differences: the ignorant. God bless America, and all the buffoons here.

  • dduck

    Is there a difference between an “assault weapon” and an “assault rifle”?
    Evidently there is, because some people think an assault rifle will fire round after round with one trigger pull, when it is the assault rifle that does that, the semi-automatics we are discussing take a trigger pull for each round to be fired. Automatic rifles have been banned for decades.
    So, it does make for some confusion, whether you are for or against “assault weapons” which might be military looking in style but have killing power just as lethal as much “sportier” looking models that use the same .233 cartridge. (The military uses a 5.56mm cartridge.)
    Either way the question is should all weapons, whatever their physical appearance, that are semi-automatic, be “banned” and should that be prospectively only or retroactively (very hard to do).
    I personally don’t have a problem with a prospective ban, but I am heavily biased, living in NYC.
    I would at least like to see a ban on mega-magazines and a aggressive buy-back program.

  • dduck

    “some people think an assault rifle will fire round after round with one trigger pull,”
    Should be assault weapon, I think, I am confused.

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