Two months after the deadly theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, new polling indicates that a slight majority of Coloradans reject stricter gun laws.
The Denver Post and SurveyUSA conducted a statewide telephone poll gauging how Colorado residents feel about tougher gun control laws. The results show that a majority of residents favor protecting the rights of gun owners over controlling gun ownership.
The poll asked, “What do you think is more important — to protect the right of Americans to own guns? Or, to control gun ownership?” Out of the 615 polled, 56 percent said it was more important to protect the rights of gun owners opposed to the 39 percent who said controlling gun ownership was more important.
The results mirror those of a similar poll done by Public Policy Polling in August. The majority (58 percent) said no gun laws could have prevented the Aurora tragedy and only 35 percent believed they could have.
One respondent of the Post poll, Mark Baisley, 57-year-old chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party, stated he was against stricter gun laws:
“I actually thought about the Aurora incident in my answer. If there were more people in that theater who were armed, there would have been a greater chance of stopping that violence by people shooting back. Evil people are going to do evil things every now and then. You can’t just clamp down on everyone’s freedom in hopes that you’re going to stop an evil person from doing evil to others one of these days.”
The only two groups polled that favored stricter laws to reduce gun violence were Democrats (48 percent vs. 44 percent) and liberals (50 percent vs. 39 percent). They also thought controlling gun ownership was more important than protecting owners’ gun rights alongside Hispanics, non-gun owners, and those who support the legalization of abortion.
According to the Post, the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
In the last five years, gun policy in the United States has become less restrictive overall. Concurrently, the American public seems to be moving away from supporting tighter gun control laws. In the wake of public shootings, more Americans see guns as protection. After the Columbine shooting, The Huffington Post reported that after an initial bump in support for stricter gun laws, support quickly fell a year later giving way to long-term decline.
Figures such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) have pushed the presidential candidates to discuss their gun policy, but such issues are unlikely to sway voters. A recent CBS/New York Times poll showed that respondents cited the economy as “the most important issue to you in deciding how you will vote for president.” Miscellaneous social issues such as gun control came in at only 2 percent.