News

New Survey Sheds Light on Americans’ 2nd Amendment Views

By Nina Vinik, director of the Foundation’s Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform program

In 2008, a divided U.S. Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.

The Court’s opinion left many unanswered questions, including the nature and scope of the right outside the home, which has prompted a slew of lawsuits by gun-rights groups seeking to clarify and expand the protection offered by the Second Amendment. Many expect the Supreme Court to revisit this issue in the near future, and -- with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to take her place -- the stakes are high.

National public-opinion research completed in December 2020 by Benenson Strategy Group offers important insights into the public’s views on the Second Amendment, with 57 percent of respondents agreeing that the way we currently interpret the Second Amendment does not place enough limits and restrictions on guns.

At the same time, the presence of guns in public spaces -- including state capitals, polling places, and even outside the homes of elected officials -- is becoming more commonplace, raising concerns about intimidation and interference with democratic institutions.

When asked about issues including the presence of guns in public spaces, the use of guns to intimidate others, and the intersection between gun rights and other constitutionally protected activity, 87 percent of survey respondents said that when a person carrying a gun uses it to intimidate someone, they are infringing on that person's First Amendment rights.

These and other findings can be viewed here and here.

The research was funded by the Joyce Foundation and the Fund for a Safer Future.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

Related Content

News

Gun violence prevention research “starting to find its footing”

As gun violence surges across the nation, the scientific journal Nature reports that researchers finally are beginning to “have the money to ask why.”

News

Joyce joins violence intervention collaborative

The Foundation is proud to join its philanthropic peers in supporting the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, aimed at strengthening and expanding community-led, evidence-based violence intervention strategies in in 15 jurisdictions.

Policy Watch

Firearms fix

Saving lives by stemming gun violence is the goal of a new law in Illinois that will strengthen background checks, shore up the state’s outdated gun-license system, and invest in mental health services for impacted communities.

News

Who bought guns during the pandemic

Foundation-funded research is turning a spotlight on a protracted gun-buying surge by Americans, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grantee Spotlight

For 25 years, building the case for keeping us safe

For more than a quarter century, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have built a global reputation for pursuing data and policy to reduce gun violence. The team marked its 25th anniversary this year in 2021.

Policy Watch

Federal funds for violence prevention

Akron, Ohio, is among cities planning to use federal stimulus dollars for violence prevention initiatives. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said he intended to use “significant resources" from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) to combat gun violence.

News

New Survey Sheds Light on Americans’ 2nd Amendment Views

In 2008, a divided U.S. Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.

Webinar

Briefing on New Illinois Criminal Justice Legislation

In January 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed the most comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation in recent memory. The Joyce Foundation, Illinois Justice Project, & BPI hosted a briefing to discuss the key elements of the 700-page bill.