The Washington Post

Gun control vs. gun rights, in one interactive graphic

A central question in the debate over guns is whether the public prioritizes protecting gun ownership rights or controlling them. The answer? Americans are pretty evenly split over the question.

Thanks to a handy chart from the Pew Research Center, we can look at the gun-rights vs. gun-control question going back nearly 20 years. According to the most recent Pew polling, 50 percent say gun control is more important, while 48 percent say protecting gun rights is a higher priority.

In the immediate aftermath of the deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the spread between gun control and gun rights was wider, but it has since narrowed. The same is true about the the last 20 years in general, as the chart shows:

It's worth clicking on the different demographic breakdowns to get a sense of where  this debate has moved and where it hasn't.

Party is an interesting one. While Republicans were pretty evenly split over the question 20 years ago, they have moved much more heavily in favor of gun rights since then. The Democratic gap has widened much less dramatically in favor of gun control. Independents, who once stood heavily in favor of gun control, are much more evenly split now.

Race is another interesting breakdown. Blacks currently stand heavily in favor of gun control over gun rights, as they have in Pew polls dating back to December 1993. But compared to 1993, whites have changed their views. Back then, they favored gun control over gun rights by 17 points. Now, they support gun rights by a nearly identical margin, 16 points.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Rachel Weiner · May 23, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.