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


Examining the Rise of Armed Extremists and Militias in Michigan

Recent political violence issues have been on the rise in the U.S. During this webinar, panelists discussed these trends, their implications on democratic institutions specifically in Michigan, and what policy makers might be poised to do about it.

Grantee Spotlight

Chicago violence prevention leader joins Justice Department as senior adviser

READI Chicago Director Eddie Bocanegra Joins Justice Department as Senior Adviser

Heartland Alliance

In The Media

What Makes Funder Collaboratives Work? The Fund for a Safer Future Looks Back on Its First Decade

By Tim Daly and Scott Moyer discuss the impact and success of the Fund for Safer Future that was established in 2011.

Inside Philanthropy


The current state of the Chicago police consent decree

A discussion on the court ordered consent decree that included an update from independent monitor Maggie Hickey, and a panel discussion with Cara Hendrickson, Ghian Foreman, Robert Boik, and Garien Gatewood (moderator).


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.”

In The Media

$600m Needed for Gun Violence Research: Report

According to a joint report prepared for Arnold Ventures and the Joyce Foundation, gun violence research remains underfunded. The federal government needs to spend around $600m over five years for research and data infrastructure improvements recommended.

The Crime Report


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.