WaPo/ABC poll shows majority believes a gun makes a home safer

posted at 1:01 pm on April 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Many words have been written this week about why Barack Obama’s gun-control push failed, but this Washington Post/ABC poll may hold the real key to the puzzle.  A majority of Americans see guns as a way to make homes safer rather than more dangerous, a big change over the last 13 years:

Lost amid the debate is the fact that for the first time a majority of Americans say having a gun in the household makes it a safer place to be, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. By a wide 51 to 29 percent margin, more people say a gun in the house makes it safer rather than more dangerous.

That’s a near complete reversal from a Gallup poll in 2000, when the public split 35 to 51 percent on whether guns make the home safer  or more dangerous.

People with guns in their homes lead the way in touting the safety benefits: 75 percent say they make the house safer, compared with just 30 percent of those with no gun at home who say the same.

And not surprisingly, those beliefs have a big impact on gun-rights and gun-control views:

Those who think guns make the home safer prioritize gun rights over new gun laws by 2 to 1. But for those who think guns make the home more dangerous overwhelmingly prioritize new laws to limit gun violence over protecting gun rights, by 82 to 12 percent.

Take a look at the graphic from the Post at the link to see how the demographics plays.  Those with majorities claiming guns make homes more safe include:

  • independents (54%)
  • households with $50-100K and $100K+ income
  • education levels from “high school or less” (52%), college graduates (52%), and some college (59%)
  • white men (65%) and white women (51%), although oddly no other ethnic/gender data is presented
  • South (61%) and Midwest (52%)

Even the next tier appears to show pluralities or virtual ties among moderates (47%), households earning less than $50K (46%), and the West (46%).  Now take a look at the few demographics with significant gaps favoring “more dangerous::

  • Northeast (38%)
  • Democrats (34%)
  • Post-grads (33%)
  • Liberals (32%)

It’s practically a stereotype.  Basically, it’s the retiring professor played by the always-terrific Richard Jenkins from the film Liberal Arts (which is actually a very good film, by the way).

In order to convince people that (a) guns make them more dangerous, and (b) the intent wasn’t to take away guns that people feel make them safer, a certain level of finesse and empathy would be required. Was that what the gun-control crowd employed on this latest fiasco?  Hardly.  From the President down to the grassroots and especially in the media, gun-rights defenders were vilified, mocked, and demonized, all while the gun-control crowd pushed an agenda that had little to do with the shooting and the victims they repeatedly invoked.  This wasn’t a sales job — it was a lecture, a months-long shout in the face of people who don’t think it’s the guns that commit the crimes.

Nick Gillespie argues that what really took place was that reality triumphed over hysteria:

 1. Criminals – including mass shooters – don’t buy their guns legally.As Jacob Sullum recently pointed out, surveys of inmates found that they overwhelmingly get their guns either illegally or by other means that won’t be affected by any new laws:

Three sources accounted for almost nine out of 10 crime guns: “friends or family” (40 percent), “the street” (38 percent), and theft (10 percent). It is hard to see how any notional background check requirement, even one applying to all private transfers, can reasonably be expected to have a significant impact on these sources. As usual with gun control, the attempt to enforce such a requirement would impose costs and uncertain legal risks on law-abiding gun owners while leaving criminals free to go about their business.

For all the anxiety caused by so-called gun-show loophole, through which private sales at gun shows are not necessarily subject to background checks, just 2 percent of inmates said they got their guns that way.

2. The last assault weapons ban had no clear effect on gun-related violence. A 2004 study for the National Institute of Justice at the Dept. of Justice concluded that the assault weapons ban, which also regulated “large-capacity magazines” (LCMs), that lasted from 1994-2003 did not have an easily observed impact on gun crime. Gun-violence rates did decline over that period, but the researchers wrote, “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.” That’s because such weapons were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban. As important, the authors wrote that were an assault weapons ban reinstated, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

3. Gun-related violence and overall violent crime is declining.Tragedies such as the Newtown shooting last December provoke a strong emotional reaction. That’s understandable and we need to pay attention to the fears, anxieties, and pain such horrific events cause. But it’s also imperative that we don’t legislate out of panic of raw emotions – that sort of thing leads to, say, the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II and the passage of The Patriot Act.

Well, what about expanded background checks?  Megan McArdle argues that Obama probably could have gotten those, perhaps with NRA support or at least tolerance, had he and his allies refrained from poisoning the pond so thoroughly, convincing gun owners that seizure was the real end game:

Imagine our car dealer posted a price of $40,000 on the car.  Would that get him closer to the full $18,000 he’d ideally like to collect from you?  Hardly.  You’d take one look at that absurd pricetag, decide he was an idiot, and take your business elsewhere.  Similarly, if you kept insisting that you only wanted to pay $2,000 for the car, the salesman would probably quickly decide that you weren’t serious, so it wasn’t worth wasting his time on a negotiation.

Arguably, that’s what happened to gun control.  By spending time on an assault weapons ban, gun controllers hurt themselves in multiple ways.  They energized the NRA’s base, who could probably have been persuaded to live with background checks.  They wasted time, which had a huge cost: gun owners care about gun rights all the time, but the rest of the population mostly cares about gun control in the wake of a high-profile tragedy.  And they made themselves look less like serious negotiators who were willing to come to a compromise that the other side could accept, and more like they were trying to reinstate the kind of gun laws that NRA members had spent two decades beating back.

In other words, by demanding more, they got less.

Asking for the moon in the hopes that you will get the stars is a good strategy only when you’re actually okay with getting nothing at all.  To throw in a bit more negotiating jargon, it matters a lot whether you think your BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) is better than whatever minimum concession the other side is demanding. …

In the negotiation over gun control, the alternative to an agreement was something that gun rights activists liked–no new gun laws–and gun controllers didn’t. That meant the administration started with a weak hand, and moreover, that everyone knew they were starting with a weak hand. They needed to be superbly tactical: move fast, propose a modest agreement that got the public on their side without fanning too much of a frenzy among the NRA’s membership, and get it done. Instead they squandered their post-Newtown momentum on an unwinnable negotiating position, and lost everything.

Actually, I don’t think that the White House had any clue as to the weakness of their hand. This is an administration that has a lot more in common with the professor in Liberal Arts, and a worldview constricted to Academia and the outer markers of OFA.

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Unless all states adopt the same gun control measures, there is no gun control measure. All these state gun control measures are only feel good measures. We need these bills federalized. Period.

HotAirLib on April 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM

How come the Democrat Gun City City of Chicago does not enforce its own gun laws, which are among the strictest in the US?

(Starts Stopwatch)

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM

partisan on April 20, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Still waiting for you to prove to us that flare guns, starter’s pistols, and water guns are solely designed to kill people, and have absolutely no other function.

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2013 at 2:13 PM

(Checks Stopwatch)

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Sometimes i wonder why i even come here?

HotAirLib on April 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM

…you spelled cum wrong.

KOOLAID2 on April 20, 2013 at 5:50 PM


Schadenfreude on April 20, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Sometimes i wonder why i even come here?

HotAirLib on April 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM

You like to be abused?

You like to lose? Del is waiting for you. So is hawkdriver, you weasel.

Schadenfreude on April 20, 2013 at 5:53 PM


Schadenfreude on April 20, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Year-old story?

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Sometimes i wonder why i even come here?

HotAirLib on April 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM

You’re a masochist who enjoys getting pummeled?

You’re happy to sharpen the debate skills of conservatives by being a willing target?

You’re an idiot?

dominigan on April 20, 2013 at 7:46 PM

So the fact that most Americans want everyone to go through a background check in order to buy a firearm means those same Americans don’t want to defend themselves? Sometimes i wonder why i even come here?

HotAirLib on April 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Well see… there’s the problem. I’ve read the poll questions, and you are misinterpreting the results.

The poll asked how many people supported background checks, while you failed to understand that people also know that we HAVE background checks… and that they work. After all, the Newtown shooter was denied a weapons purchase by the background checks that everyone supports. Nearly all firearm purchases, except a few among individuals (usually among people that know each other), go through background checks. The vast majority of gun show firearm purchases are made through dealers, who have the tables, and who perform background checks on the spot.

Oh, and I figured it out…

You come here to get an education.

dominigan on April 20, 2013 at 7:58 PM

By a wide 51 to 29 percent margin, more people say a gun in the house makes it safer rather than more dangerous.

If WAPO ABC report those numbers it must be a lot higher. 50 percent plus 1 is about as high as you could push their reality imaging

If anyone comes near my place with a suicide vest, I will detonate them personally. Using my gun

entagor on April 20, 2013 at 9:13 PM

…you spelled cum wrong.

KOOLAID2 on April 20, 2013 at 5:50 PM


Seriously, this leftist b!tch is having a real meltdown here over this.

I came to the fact that partisan is Allah trolling. But this clown’s the real deal.

Lanceman on April 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

It’s 3:00 am and a foreign-born muslim terrorist is breaking into your house to elude police; Which of the following would you like to have with which to defend your home and family:

A) obama Chia Pet
B) ‘HILLARY 2016’ bumper sticker
C) Loaded Gun

Pork-Chop on April 20, 2013 at 9:42 PM

You’re wrong about the poll. Please google it.
righty45 on April 20, 2013 at 4:56 PM

No I’m not. And which poll are you talking about anyway? There are several referenced in this thread.
Here’s the actual question from the Marist poll released through MSDNC:

Do you support or oppose legislation that would require background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows?

Now how are people likley to answer that question given that sales at gun shows do in fact already require background checks – if bought from an FFL dealer – which is the vast majority of sellers at gun show, although it would appear much of the public doesn’t understand that because of the Dems’ lies?
Does the word “universal” appear in that question? No.
Does it specifically ask about “everyone going through a background check”? No.
And – only 87% said yes – not 90%
AND – the polling sample was slanted toward liberals.

dentarthurdent on April 20, 2013 at 9:56 PM

You’re wrong about the poll. Please google it.
righty45 on April 20, 2013 at 4:56 PM

And in the Quinnipiac polls, it depends on which poll taken in which state you want to talk about.
Cuz the questions changed.

(VA, Jan 10 2013) Would you favor or oppose requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?

(NJ, Jan 24 2013) Would you favor or oppose requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?

Well – that’s already required. So what’s the point?

(PA, Jan 30 2013) Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?

So this one poll asked about ALL gun buyers.
OK – so how many people taking these polls have already shown they don’t know the current laws?
And how many people taking these polls understand that real total universal background checks would require a national registry to enforce the law?

dentarthurdent on April 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM

As gummint {overall) continues to decline in performance and increase its’ promises and sizzle and its’ ‘Hey, look! A squirrel!’ actions, remember –
“When you’re in trouble and every second counts, the cops are only minutes away.”
Cops are not trained nor equipped to stop crime. They investigate the results of crime and pursue ciminals. They will not be there to help you IN the crisis.

…and Social Security was never designed to be sole support…
…and Medicare is charity medicine at best…
…and gummint cannot safty-cap the whole world for you…

Quit thinking you’re just another victim and start living your own life, instead of expecting gummint to handle everything.


DublOh7 on April 20, 2013 at 10:11 PM

WaPo/ABC poll shows majority believes a gun makes a home safer

That’s been the propaganda for as long as I’ve been alive: that if you have a gun in the home, you’re more likely to have it used against you, so you’re actually less safe.

There were sitcoms in the 70s that pushed this claim (in their constant quest to be “relevant”). Sometimes, they would put a gun in the hand of the biggest fool on the show, and have them accidentally shoot someone. The Moral was clear: Having a gun in the house puts you at risk

The claim was pushed by all sorts of news organizations as well.

So what this news story means is that even the most persistent and long-lived propaganda can still fail.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 21, 2013 at 12:24 AM

“WaPo/ABC poll shows majority believes a gun makes a home safer.” Well, Duh!

elihu on April 21, 2013 at 6:38 AM

I’d like to invite all of the gun grabbers to read this short bit I wrote on my blog, Pesky Truth. It’s called “when seconds count.”
Check it out here: http://peskytruth.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/when-seconds-count/

Garnet92 on April 21, 2013 at 1:05 PM

“You Hear Glass Breaking” is also available on “Nox and Friends” here:

Garnet92 on April 21, 2013 at 1:07 PM

The grabbers might also be educated, or at least questioned by the “You Hear Glass Breaking” post at Pesky Truth as well (it’s a short one).http://peskytruth.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/you-hear-glass-breaking/

Garnet92 on April 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM