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CBS/Vanity Fair Poll: More Gun Laws Not the Answer

Monday, 04 Mar 2013 01:40 PM

By Bill Hoffman

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Stricter gun laws won’t make most Americans feel safer, a new CBS “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll reveals.

The survey also found Americans uncomfortable with the idea of arming schoolteachers. And when it comes to protecting their homes, more Americans picked a firearm for security over installing an alarm system or a having a dog.

Also, the vast majority say they believe violent games and films contribute to violence in society. In addition, most respondents didn’t know who Wayne LaPierre is — the chief executive of the National Rifle Association.

The poll, a random sample of 1,052 adults, was conducted nationwide by telephone in late January for release in March.

It found that 65 percent believe that even if Congress passes tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings, they won’t feel any safer.

Another 45 percent say new gun laws would make “no difference” in stemming violence, while 20 percent feel stricter laws will only make them less safe, a percentage that varies with political affiliation.

Only 6 percent who identify themselves as Democrats say stronger laws would make them feel less safe compared with 25 percent of independents and 33 percent of Republicans.

Turning to the protection of students in schools, 51 percent of respondents say arming teachers would make them less comfortable, a figure that rises to 54 percent with those who have kids under 18. Another 23 percent said there would be “no difference” in the way they feel if teachers could keep guns in the classroom.

When asked which means of protection they would prefer to make them feel safer at home, 31 percent of the poll's respondents chose a gun, 30 percent an alarm system, and 22 percent a dog.

Breaking it down by political party, more Republicans (44 percent) feel safer with a gun in the home than Democrats (20 percent).

And more Democrats (37 percent) chose an alarm system than did Republicans (25 percent).

Independents are slightly more comfortable with a gun (33 percent) than an alarm system (27 percent), according to the poll.

The survey also found that 80 percent of respondents think staged violence in popular culture, such as films and video games, contributes to the real violence. Another 45 percent say the influence is “a lot” and 35 percent say it is “some,” compared with 12 percent who say it plays a small role and only 6 percent who believe it has no influence at all.

The poll found that women (55 percent) are far more likely to answer “a lot” than men (35 percent) when asked whether new laws will make them feel safer. It also revealed that most Americans (66 percent) don't carry a weapon.

Despite all his lobbying efforts, Wayne LaPierre’s efforts to prevent passage of new gun laws has had little influence with the public. According to the “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll, 74 percent of respondents were unable to identify the NRA head. Fourteen percent thought he was a French explorer, while 8 percent guessed a Canadian hockey player.

The survey also asked about the respondents’ knowledge of the Second Amendment dealing with gun rights. Forty-eight percent said the amendment begins with the words, “The right to bear arms . . . ,” which isn’t mentioned until later in the passage.

Just 16 percent got it right, noting that it begins, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state . . . ”

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