Majority of Americans say guns make homes safer

April 18, 2013

The failure of popular Senate gun proposals Wednesday affirmed -- even in the wake of Newtown shootings -- the rigidity of the politics on the issue.

Lost amid the debate is the fact that for the first time a majority of Americans say having a gun in the household makes it a safer place to be, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. By a wide 51 to 29 percent margin, more people say a gun in the house makes it safer rather than more dangerous.

That's a near complete reversal from a Gallup poll in 2000, when the public split 35 to 51 percent on whether guns make the home safer  or more dangerous.

People with guns in their homes lead the way in touting the safety benefits: 75 percent say they make the house safer, compared with just 30 percent of those with no gun at home who say the same.

Those who think guns make the home safer prioritize gun rights over new gun laws by 2 to 1. But for those who think guns make the home more dangerous overwhelmingly prioritize new laws to limit gun violence over protecting gun rights, by 82 to 12 percent.

The gun-safety coalition is led by Republicans, with about seven in 10 saying firearms make the home safer. Conservatives, white men and Southerners are all broadly supportive of the idea that guns make homes safer.

Those who don't see guns adding safety are predictably on the other side of the political aisle -- mainly Democrats, liberals and those with higher education.

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Sean Sullivan | April 18, 2013