The perception of gun rights in the USA is a very complex issue, and one, which is influenced by a number of different factors (e.g., politics, religion, geographic location, etc.). Although views on the possession of guns and firearms may be quite variable, it is actually more conservative than people may think. In fact, according to the Pre Research Center, 86% of the general population is in favor of background checks when it comes to gun sales (http://www.pewresearch.org).
Another statistic that is quite salient is that in 2013, 48% of gun owners stated that they had guns for protection, as opposed to 32% who said they owned them for hunting purposes. In contrast, a survey in 1999 revealed that only 26% of people had guns for protection. The same survey does remind us; however, that while 79% of actual gun owners stated that guns made feel safer, an almost equal amount (78%) stated that owning a gun was something they just enjoyed. Also, 58% of people who did not own guns stated that having a gun in their home would make them feel uncomfortable.
Gun ownership and gun control are very salient issues as they could literally mean a difference between someone’s life and death. On the one hand, guns are used for protection of people (e.g., times of war, family members, government officials, etc.), but on the other hand, they can be very destructive and actually harm those that they are supposed to protect (e.g., gangs/criminals, domestic violence, warfare, kids and guns, etc.). Many supporters of “gun freedom” refer to the Second Amendment, which gives all citizens the right to “keep and bear all arms (http://www.constitution.org/leglrkba.htm). This Amendment has been interpreted in a number of ways and opponents have argued that there needs to be a federal regulation/law that will control and standardize under what circumstances people can own guns (e.g., age, criminal background check, concealed/not concealed, etc.). The debate is ongoing and continues to be a hot topic to this day, especially when it comes to political campaigns.