WASHINGTON (AP) — A growing number of Americans are questioning the government's protection of the constitutional right to bear arms, according to a poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. A mass shooting this week at a military base in Washington restarted the debate over tightening national gun control laws.
Asked 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 guns and voting rights.
Overall, 44 percent of Americans think the federal government is doing a good job of protecting the right to keep and bear arms, down from 57 percent two years earlier. Opposition Republicans and independents were far more likely than President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats to give the government poor reviews on that point.
Among Republicans, 36 percent said the government was doing a good job, down from 51 percent two years ago. That compared with 56 percent of Democrats, down from 64 percent two years ago.
The survey was conducted Aug. 12-29, prior to the mass shooting this week at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead, including the gunman.
After the shooting, Americans from all sides spoke with sorrow. But many opponents of gun control said tighter laws could make things worse, while those who support tighter laws said the attack was another sign that action is overdue.
Obama made a big push for tighter gun laws after a mass shooting at a Connecticut school in December killed 20 young children and six adults. But the legislation has failed so far in Congress.
After Monday's shooting, the president's spokesman said Obama remained committed to strengthening gun laws. But there was little expectation of movement in Congress.
The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It involved landline and cellphone interviews in English or Spanish with 1,008 adults nationwide. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Associated Press writer Stacy A. Anderson and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
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