WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Jersey college student wants Congress to stand strong against tougher gun laws. A Colorado software executive thinks the federal government goes too far in protecting gun rights. A child-care worker in Wisconsin just wants the shootings in her city to stop.
Even as the debate over tightening national gun control laws is rekindled after the latest mass shooting, a growing number of Americans are questioning the government's stewardship of the right to bear arms, according to a poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Asked to size up how the government is doing on protecting a variety of rights and freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights and federal law, Americans pointed to slippage almost everywhere but most dramatically on the matters of guns and voting rights. The impression of a declining track record on guns rights turned up everywhere: among Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old, city dwellers and those in small towns.
Overall, 44 percent of Americans think the federal government is doing a good job of safeguarding the right to keep and bear arms, down from 57 percent two years earlier. Of course, not everyone wants the government to go all out to safeguard Second Amendment rights, and that affects how people assess the government's success at protecting the right.
Republicans and independents were far more likely than Democrats to give the government poor marks for protecting gun rights.
Among Republicans, 36 percent said the government was doing a good job protecting the right to bear arms, down from 51 percent two years ago. That compared with 56 percent of Democrats giving a good rating now, down from 64 percent two years ago. The slide was highest among independents, going from 52 percent giving a good rating in 2011 down to 25 percent in the latest poll.