US Insights

Americans Are Not Divided on Guns

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Policy 04.24.2018 / 16:00

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The majority of Americans don't own guns and desire increased legislation.

The push for stricter gun-control legislation has become a central theme of American life in 2018. Indeed, Kantar research indicates that Americans believe it’s one of the greatest challenges the country currently faces. But are Americans as divided on this issue as we seem to be on almost everything else?

A survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by Lightspeed conducted between March 10 and March 22 indicates that there is more common ground about guns than one might expect.

Do You Own a Gun?

There’s no official government count of how many Americans own a gun. That said, a range of surveys show that gun ownership is far from the norm. Our survey showed the same, with only 20% of Americans saying they currently owned a gun. As one might expect, gun ownership rates were higher among respondents in rural areas and among Republicans. And yet, even in those groups gun ownership was below 30%.



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When Do You Need a Gun?

Among those who do own a gun, and those who know someone who owns a gun, the top reason for having firearms is “for my daily protection.” But is there a need for “daily protection” in America? It’s debatable. The data certainly suggests there’s no more need for protection today than there was in the past. Reports of violent crimes have fallen drastically over the last 20 years.

Given that, we asked respondents to tell us if they had ever found themselves in a scenario in which they thought ‘I wish I had a gun.’ Some 53% said no, and only 17.9% said they wished they had one for protection during an incident.



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How Should The Second Amendment Be Interpreted Today?

Preserving the sanctity of the Second Amendment is often the primary argument presented for blocking stricter gun legislation. Nearly 50% of our respondents said that they believed the framers of the Constitution believed the Second Amendment was intended to allow all citizens to own a gun at that time.



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However, our survey found that there’s a desire to reconsider the 2nd amendment for today’s society.  Less than 40% of respondents said the 2nd Amendment today should be interpreted to mean everyone has the right to have guns and 33.7% said it should be changed “due to a lack of relevance.”

Role of the National Rifle Association

The National Rifle Association has been at the center of the gun control debate for decades. The NRA’s level of influence on politicians is of some concern according to our respondents. Nearly 40% said they felt the NRA has “too much control on Congress.” 30% consider it a “dangerous” organization.



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Political Advertising

The intense public focus on gun control is having a direct impact on the amount of money politicians from both parties are devoting to the issue.  According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), nearly 25,000 gun-related ads have run on local broadcast, national broadcast and national cable between Jan. 1 and April 18. Spending has totaled $13.3 million. Democrats have accounted for the lion’s share of advertising, running 11,130 spots and spending $8.5 million.

Source: Kantar, Lightspeed, Kantar Media

Editor's Notes

To speak with the author or for inquiries, contact us. Follow @Kantar and sign up for our insight alerts.

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