’60 Minutes’/’Vanity Fair’ Poll: Stricter Gun Laws Won’t Make Americans Feel Safer

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60 Minutes Vanity Fair Poll

via press release:







New York, N.Y.— Stricter gun laws would not make most Americans feel safer, and arming schoolteachers would make them feel uncomfortable. When it comes to protecting their homes, more Americans picked a gun than an alarm system or a dog. And the vast majority agree violent games and films contribute to violence in society. That is what Americans are saying about guns and violence in the latest edition of the 60 MINUTES/Vanity Fair Poll, the results of which can be found in the April issue of Vanity Fair, on 60Minutes.com or VF.com. Go to the poll.

Also in this month’s poll: a gun is the top choice for those who carry protection, respondents believe stricter gun laws should be a national priority but not the top priority, and the majority of Americans don’t know who Wayne LaPierre is.

Even if Congress passed stricter gun laws in the wake of the Newtown shooting, 65 percent say, such laws would not make them feel safer: 45 percent of those polled say they would make “no difference” while 20 percent of those polled feel stricter laws will only make them less safe, a percentage that varies with political affiliation. Just 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. Thirty-three percent of all polled say stricter laws would make them feel safer.

Most Americans are dubious of the idea of arming teachers in the classroom. Fifty-one percent say arming teachers would make them less comfortable, a figure that rises to 54 percent among those with children under 18. Twenty-three percent of all polled said there would be “no difference” in the way they feel if teachers were allowed to keep guns in the classroom.

The survey asked which means of protection Americans would prefer to have to make them feel safer at home. 31 percent chose a gun, while 30 percent chose a gun in the home, while 30 percent choose an alarm system. Both choices beat man’s best friend, as only 22 percent opted for a dog. Expensive “safe rooms,” popularized in the 2002 Jodie Foster thriller Panic Room, have apparently not caught on, with only 8 percent picking that defense. The gap between preferences for a gun and for an alarm system broadens when broken down by politics. 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).

Eighty percent of respondents to this poll think that staged violence in popular culture such as films and video games contributes to the real violence in society. Forty-five percent say the influence is “a lot” and 35 percent say it is “some.” Another 12 percent allow that film and game violence plays a small role, picking “not much.” Only 6 percent say “not at all.” Women (55 percent) are far more likely to answer “a lot” than men (35 percent).

On other topics: most Americans (66 percent) don’t carry protection, but of those who do, 12 percent say they carry a gun and 10 percent pepper spray or mace; 62 percent say stricter gun laws should be a high priority, but not the highest priority; and despite all the media attention he received after the Newtown shooting, nearly three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) cannot identify Wayne LaPierre as head of the N.R.A.

The April issue of Vanity Fair will be available on newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on March 7, and nationally and on the iPad, Nook, and Kindle on March 12.

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This poll was conducted at the CBS News interviewing facility among a random sample of 1,052 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone Jan. 24-27, 2013. Phone numbers were dialed from random-digit dial samples of both standard landline and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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