Nine-in-ten Americans maintain their views on the Second Amendment, but a majority of gun owners and non-gun owners alike believe that the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle should only be used by the police and other authorized persons, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample of 1,010 American adults also found that support for the “shall-issue” prerogative to carry concealed weapons in public has increased over the past six months.

Second Amendment and Federal Guidelines

Across the United States, 90 per cent of respondents think that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution means that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms, while only five per cent disagree with this view.

There is an evident split when Americans are asked their opinion of current federal regulations related to firearm ownership, with 46 per cent of respondents claiming to be satisfied with these guidelines, and 43 per cent expressing dissatisfaction.

Gun owners (61%), Republicans (54%) and Independents (48%) are more likely be satisfied with the status quo on firearms regulations, while half of Democrats (50%) and Americans who do not own a gun (49%) are dissatisfied.

Half of Americans (49%) believe firearms laws in the United States should be stricter, including 71 per cent of Democrats, 60 per cent of respondents who do not own a gun, and 46 per cent of Independents. Both gun owners and Republicans would rather keep existing regulations, or enact looser ones.

Types of Weapons and Concealed Carry

For this survey, respondents were shown three pictures of firearms and asked whether they should be available to every American who is eligible to own firearms, or only to the police and other authorized persons. These weapons were reportedly used in last month’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

A majority of respondents believe the .40-calibre Glock handgun (63%) and the Remington 870 shotgun (58%) should remain accessible to every American who is eligible to own firearms. However, 73 per cent of Americans—including sizeable majorities of Republicans (66%) and gun owners (61%)—believe the AR-15 rifle should only be used by the police and other authorized persons.

On the question of concealed carry—where states have enacted different regulations—practically three-in-five respondents (58%, +7 since January) favor the “shall-issue” notion of allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon if they meet specific criteria laid out in the law. Gun owners (66%) and people who do not own a gun (52%) agree on this issue.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570

Methodology: From July 31 to August 1, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,010 American adults who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of the United States. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.