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    Mar 19, 2008
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    June 03, 2008 05:05 AM Eastern Daylight Time PermalinkTo save a permanent link to this news, right-click the date and time (Ctl-click on a Mac) and choose the command to copy the link, link location or shortcut.

    Does the Second Amendment Provide the Right to Bear Arms? U.S. Adults Think So However, Public Still Favors Stricter Gun Control

    ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the Second Amendment expected at some point this month, The Harris Poll® finds that by a margin of over two to one, more U.S. adults believe that the Second Amendment supports an individual’s right to bear arms. Furthermore, the survey also finds that more of the U.S. public continues to favor stricter gun control. However, concerning the impact on the election, the public seems to be split on which presidential candidate would do a better job handling gun control.

    These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,602 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive® between May 5 and 12, 2008.

    In the next few weeks the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide D.C. v. Heller, which concerns whether the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The question that the Supreme Court will be answering is whether the Second Amendment actually provides an individual with the right to own a gun or whether it provides the state the ability to form a militia.

    The Harris Poll showed wording from the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the survey’s sample and asked whether U.S. adults think the Second Amendment supports an individual’s right to bear arms or a state’s right to form a militia, the same question the Supreme Court will be answering this month. The Poll found:

    By 41 percent to 17 percent, a two to one plurality believes that the Second Amendment supports an individual’s right to bear arms. Interestingly, almost three in ten (29%) feel the Amendment supports both and 5 percent say neither;
    Furthermore, by political party affiliation Republicans by 51 percent to 9 percent believe the Second Amendment supports individuals’ right to bear arms. Democrats also agree, though by a closer 41 percent to 22 percent margin. Independents are even more closely divided with 31 percent to 22 percent thinking that the Amendment supports and individuals’ right to bear arms.
    And with regard to gun control:

    A relative majority of U.S. adults – 49 percent – favor stricter gun control, with 20 percent wanting less strict gun control and 21 percent wanting no change. Since 2004, these sentiments have changed slightly with the number favoring stricter gun control going down from 52 percent. Since 1998, however, this has dropped significantly as ten years ago, 69 percent favored stricter gun control;
    By 54 percent to 18 percent a majority favors stricter laws relating to the control of hand guns and another 18 percent want no change. These opinions have not changed much since 2004 when a similar 57 percent to 18 percent also favored stricter control of handguns. Again, a decade makes a larger difference as in 1998, a 76 percent to 19 percent majority favored stricter laws relating to the control of hand guns.
    2008 Presidential Campaign

    Concerning the three major candidates – John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama – the public is split on which individual would do a good job in handling the gun control issue if elected president:

    By 36 percent to 34 percent John McCain receives slightly higher positive marks than either Democrat. Conversely, Barack Obama receives a 42 percent to 30 percent negative rating as does Hillary Clinton with 40 percent to 30 percent;
    By approximately three in ten, the public is not sure about whether any of the candidates would do a good job.
    So What?

    Even though many U.S. adults believe the Second Amendment does support an individual’s right to bear arms, the public does not feel this right should be achieved without some gun control. Many U.S. adults still favor stricter gun control, although for the first time in 10 years, this is not a majority. The candidates have not yet made any major policy statements concerning gun control, which is one reason so many are not sure about how they would handle the issue if elected. However, once the U.S. Supreme Court rules, the candidates may be forced to give their opinion and gun control could become an issue in the general election.


    The Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States May 5 and 12, 2008, among 2,602 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology and data tables are available at

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


    Q806, 810, 815, 820

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit

    Harris Interactive Inc. 6/08

    [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica]ZARASTER
    5th Generation TEXAN
    12th Generation American (sailed over before 1600)

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