Poll: Americans united against guns in churches

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 15 2012 5:55 p.m. MDT

According to public opinion polls, Americans prefer to keep guns out of Churches.

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Following the deadly shootings in a Wisconsin Sikh temple and a Colorado movie theater, a new poll has found Americans united in banning guns from houses of worship but divided over the general issue of gun control.

The new poll released Wednesday by the Public Religion Research Institute and conducted in partnership with Religion News Service found 76 percent of respondents said concealed weapons should not be allowed in houses of worship, while 20 percent disagreed.

On the general issue of gun control, the poll shows 52 percent favor passing stricter laws, while 44 percent are opposed.

"Although the issue of gun control tends to divide Americans by party, gender, region and race, there is broad agreement among the public that there are some places where concealed weapons should be off limits," said Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director.

Breaking down the gun control question along religious lines, some 62 percent of Catholics favor gun control compared to 35 percent of evangelicals.

The numbers reflect the opinions posted on the Internet following the Colorado shootings, where bloggers debated whether gun control is a religious issue. A roundup of several those opinions had some likening gun control to protecting the sanctity of life, while prominent evangelicals blamed the senseless crimes on the sinful state of society in general and not the nation's gun laws.

According to the poll, white evangelicals were most likely to cite "a greater emphasis on God and morality" as the best way to avoid mass shootings. Otherwise, Cox told the RNS that respondents were "all over the map" on solutions:

— 27 percent of respondents said stricter gun control would help.

— 22 percent cited better mental health screenings and support for those who want guns.

— 20 percent argued for a greater emphasis on God and morality in school and society.

— 14 percent want stricter security at public gatherings.

— 11 percent said allowing more private citizens to carry guns for protection is the answer.

The poll of 1,006 Americans was conducted Aug. 8-12 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

More than two weeks earlier, a federal court upheld a Georgia law banning guns in churches as constitutional. The ruling was against the pastor of a church and a Second Amendment advocacy group to which he belonged.

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