A possible contributing factor to America’s enduring debate over gun rights may be the fact that a large portion of the country’s voters have little first-hand or accurate knowledge of the issue.
A new ScottRasmussen.com national survey shows that 46% of voters do not own a gun, nor does anyone in their family. The same survey shows that 42% of voters have never even fired a gun.
And for those with no family member who owns a gun, 79% say it’s unlikely they will ever own one in the future (see question wording and crosstab results).
Party identity plays a big role in these results. For example, 57% of Democrats responding to the survey say neither they nor anyone in their family owns a gun. An almost equal number of Republican voters (58%) so either they or their family members do own a gun.
This national survey of 1,001 Registered Voters was conducted October 11-12, 2018 for ScottRasmussen.com by HarrisX, a leading research company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). The Margin of Error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
In a starker example of the disconnect many voters have with the facts about guns, only 12% of respondents knew that suicide was the leading cause of gun-related deaths in America. That figure was unchanged from August.
The raw facts of gun ownership and gun violence seem to play a secondary role to attitudes about government power. A column I wrote last year explained that, at its core, the debate about gun control is not about guns. Everyone agrees on the need to reduce gun violence. Ultimately, therefore, the gun debate is about trust. Those who defend the Second Amendment trust everyday Americans far more than they trust the government and government officials. The reverse is true for those who want to ban or strictly regulate guns.
In another ScottRasmussen.com national survey conducted earlier this month, 76% of voters said gun laws were an issue that was very or at least somewhat important issue influencing their midterm election vote.
All data presented by ScottRasmussen.com is to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us). Receive the latest insights each day by signing up for Scott Rasmussen’s Morning Update.
Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).