Monday, January 14, 2013

Gallup finds 63% of Americans still favor death penalty

More than half of Americans recently polled, according to a Columbus Dispatch article this morning, still favor the death penalty for murder convictions.

The paper reports that the results of the 2012 USA Today/Gallup poll of about 1,000 adults are similar to findings from the 2011 poll when 61 percent of respondents favored capital punishment, and in 2010, when 64 percent were in favor of the practice.

"Gallup," the Dispatch article said, "has polled Americans on the death penalty since 1936, when 59 percent agreed with the practice. This current one, done by phone from Dec. 19-22, within days of the Newtown, Conn., shooting spree that claimed the lives of 28 people, including 20 elementary school children, has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

"Support of the death penalty peaked at 80 percent in 1994 and hit a low of 42 percent in the 1960s."

Gallup also surveyed our opinions of guns laws in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings with 38% --- Close to four in 10--- saying gun laws should be stricter. That's up from 25% who held this set of views a year ago, and is the highest since 2001. Still, the pollster reported, "more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%, too."

Gallup here reported "after a decade of little change in Americans' overall level of satisfaction with the nation's gun laws, significantly more now express dissatisfaction and want laws to be stricter -- yet another sign that the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December have given Americans pause on the issue, at least in the short term.

"Other recent Gallup polling, however, shows Americans are not prepared to relinquish their Second Amendment rights, as majorities reject banning the possession of handguns by civilians, or even outlawing the manufacture or possession of certain 'semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles'; but they are clearly more open to further restricting the sale of guns, including with more background checks and bans on high-capacity magazines. Thus, Biden's task force enjoys a window of opportunity, albeit with apparent limits, to address Americans' concerns about gun violence."

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