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Strong Voter Support for Second Amendment Doesn’t Extend to Assault Rifles

Voters strongly defend Americans’ right to a gun but still tend to feel a ban on assault rifles isn’t a bad idea.

A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of Likely U.S. Voters oppose repealing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees Americans’ right to bear arms. Twenty-four percent (24%) favor repeal, while 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In April 2018 when retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens proposed repeal of the Second Amendment in a widely-discussed op-ed article in The New York Times, 56% of Americans were opposed. Sixty percent (60%) felt that way in mid-September of this year. Support for repeal peaked at 29%.

But 49% of voters support legislation that would ban private ownership of “assault-style” rifles, although that’s down from a high of 54% in June 2015. Forty-three percent (43%) oppose banning ownership of these weapons by private individuals.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted November 13-14, 2019 by the Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Following several recent mass shootings, support for more gun control has jumped to its highest level ever. But 57% of Americans believe stricter enforcement of existing gun control laws is more important than putting new gun control laws on the books.

Most voters in nearly every demographic category oppose repeal of the Second Amendment. But those under 40 are nearly twice as likely as older voters to favor repeal.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Democrats think the Second Amendment should be repealed, compared to 19% of Republicans and 16% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Democrats (68%) are much bigger champions of a ban on private ownership of assault-style rifles than GOP voters (32%) and unaffiliateds (43%). Women (53%) favor such a ban more than men (43%) do.

Even among voters who oppose private ownership of assault-style rifles, however, just 36% favor repeal of the Second Amendment.

A big problem for those who want additional gun control is that just 18% of all Americans trust the federal government to fairly enforce gun laws.

Sixty-two percent (62%) say that in crimes involving use of a gun, the shooter is more to blame than the availability of guns in America. But 31% disagree, saying the availability of guns is more to blame.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters believe most politicians raise gun-related issues just to get elected. Only 25% think they do so to address real problems.

Eighty-three percent (83%) say they would vote for continuing to use the Constitution as the fundamental law of the United States.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted November 13-14, 2019 by the Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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