Most Americans Say ‘Yes’ to Guns

David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

Guns are a major source of controversy. There are the gun enthusiasts and other citizens who feel they have the right to protect themselves and their homes with firearms. Then, there are those who feel owning firearms only increases the likelihood that violence (purposeful and accidental) will result.

Gallup recently conducted a survey on guns, and what Americans think of them. The results of the poll showed that shockingly, 63% of Americans think having a gun in the home makes the home safer. On the other side of the coin, only 30% of Americans say they feel guns make homes more dangerous, and around 6% say “it depends.”

The results of the 2014 Gallup survey on guns were significantly different from survey results in the year 2000, when the opinion was reversed. Back in 2000, only 35% of respondents said they felt guns made homes safer, and the majority — 51% — felt guns made for a more dangerous home. You can see how the public’s opinion has changed over the past 15 years.

Data From Gallup

Data From Gallup

What’s changed?

While there is no way of knowing for sure why the view on guns has changed so dramatically over the past 15 years, if we think back over the past decade and a half, the change in views makes sense. The 2000 poll was conducted only about a year after a tragic school shooting in 1999, which sparked a gun control debate.

Other events, like the war on terrorism, tragedies that received heavy media coverage, and elections may have also changed the public view on guns and gun safety.

Demographics make a difference

The results of the Gallup poll also conveyed a large difference in views between different genders, races, political parties, and geographic regions. Overall, 42% of survey respondents report having a gun in their home. Males are more likely than females to own guns (47% vs. 38%) and Republicans are much more likely to own guns than Democrats (55% vs. 43%). Of the four geographic regions — north, south, east, and west — the south is the most likely to own guns, with the majority (51%) of southern respondents reporting they have guns in their homes.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Weighing a few of the pros and cons

Guns are big business. The industry employs people, generates  revenue, and brings in tax dollars. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimates that nearly 250,000 jobs have been created by or are related to the sporting arms industry and employees pay around $5.2 billion in state and federal taxes. “These are good jobs,” says an NSSF publication, “paying an average of $47,709.”

For a person who has no intention of doing anything wrong or illegal with a firearm and only intends on using it for sport or to protect their property, it may be difficult for them to understand the other side. And that makes perfect sense.

On the other side of the coin, the same industry that’s making money for our economy is costing it money, as well. Related expenses, like court costs and the cost of accidents are higher because of gun crimes and the misuse of guns. According to a recent report by the Urban Institute, the hospital costs related to gun violence total $500 million each year. And, with those visiting hospitals often being on some sort of assistance (or they are uninsured), taxpayers end up incurring these costs.

Guns are also different from other weapons (like pocket knives) in that their only purpose is to destroy a target and they have no other true use. Therefore, unless a person hunts or goes to the range and practices, they don’t have much (or any) experience with guns. A lot of people have never even seen one, let alone know how to use it. So, though some people can safely handle a firearm, not everyone can, and though many people use and store them responsibly, some people use guns to commit horrendous acts, and others don’t lock them up properly and safely away from minors.

These are just a few of the many points each side of the gun debate have brought to the table. What do you think about guns? Do they make homes safer, or more dangerous?

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