A national survey released earlier this month by Responsive Management, a Virginia-based public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, found that a large majority of Americans support legal hunting and recreational shooting. The new results agree with several decades worth of data, which show unflagging support for gun-related activities.
Findings on Hunting
The 2011 survey found that 74 percent of respondents indicated approval of legal hunting, 42 percent said they strongly approve. Overall, this level of approval is in line with the proportions of Americans who said they approve of hunting in survey conducted by Responsive Management in 1995, 2003 and 2006.
Additionally, the survey pointed out that “while only about a tenth of the American population hunts each year (reflected in the percent of 2011 survey respondents who said they had hunted in the 12 months prior to the survey), 95 percent of respondents indicated agreement when asked, “No matter your opinion on hunting, do you agree or disagree that it is okay for other people to hunt if they do so legally and in accordance with hunting laws and regulations?”
Finding on Shooting
The survey stated that “A large majority of Americans support the right of their fellow citizens to engage in shooting activities: 71 percent of respondents in the 2011 survey indicated approval of legal, recreational shooting, with 44 percent saying they strongly approve.”
“Also noteworthy are trends in Americans’ overall opinions of the shooting sports: 66 percent of Americans in 2011 indicated shooting sports are perfectly acceptable, compared to 63 percent who said the same in 2006 and 59 percent in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who said shooting sports are inappropriate nowadays has declined from 11 percent in 2001 and 2006 to just 5 percent in 2011.”
And this is interesting regarding future trends for shooting and hunting. The survey reported, “Following their overall positive attitudes toward hunting and shooting, substantial numbers of Americans are interested in participating in these activities. More than a quarter of Americans (27 percent) say they are interested in going hunting in the future, while more than half (56 percent) are interested in going fishing. Meanwhile, more than a third (37 percent) say they are interested in going recreational target or sport shooting in the future.
“We don’t have good comparative data before the 1990s, because people were asking the question in different ways,” Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management told the Post-Gazette. “We know from past opinion polls there has been a remarkably stable positive public opinion on hunting, fishing and the shooting sports. We keep finding that in every state — in [Pennsylvania] I think it’s 81 percent in support of hunting.”
And PA state Rep. Marc Gergely (D-White Oak) provided additional insight to the Post-Gazette to explain the public’s support for hunting and shooting.
“I think the National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Rifle Association — and in Pennsylvania, the Game Commission — have done a very good job of educating the public that hunters and people who legally own guns aren’t criminals. We are law abiding citizens,” said Gergely.
“The argument used to be, guns are bad, and that impacted their perception of hunters because we have guns,” he added. “Now, I think the conversation has shifted to, it’s not the hunters and target shooters, not the owners of legal guns that are causing [gun violence] problems. It’s the illegal ownership of guns. That’s the problem. Everyone wants to find ways to go after them . . . and prosecute them.”
The survey was done over the telephone (both landlines and cell phones were called, according to researchers). A total of 930 randomly selected U.S. residents, living in all 50 states, ages 18 and older were contacted. The age demographics were proportioned to be representative of the U.S. as a whole. And the gender split of the survey was approximately 49 percent male and 51 percent female to mirror the U.S. Census.
The study was commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conducted in August and September by Responsive Management research personnel.
Findings were reported at a 95 percent confidence interval (or higher), with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.37 percentage points, the survey stated.
Read the complete Responsive Management survey here.
(Graphs courtesy of Responsive Management and Post-Gazette)