Americans like the Supreme Court’s recent expansion of Second Amendment protections.
A new poll from Marquette University’s law school released on Wednesday shows 64 percent favor the ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. On the other hand, 35 percent said they oppose the decision.
The poll found a sizeable enthusiasm gap as well. 36 percent of respondents, the largest single share, said they strongly favor the Court’s ruling. Only 16 percent strongly oppose it.
The significant support for the Court’s Bruen opinion striking down New York’s restrictive gun-carry law comes as its effects are starting to be felt. It may signal most Americans are happy with expanded gun-rights protections, and that could undermine future efforts to overturn the Court’s landmark Second Amendment rulings.
The new standard for future gun cases the Court articulated in Bruen casts doubt on a wide breadth of restrictions at every level of government.
“When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct,” Justice Clarence Thomas said of the standard in Bruen. “The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only then may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.'”
That standard has already resulted in rulings against New York’s latest gun-carry law, Colorado “assault weapons” bans, and the federal ban on those under felony indictment from obtaining guns. It is likely to result in many more as courts are forced to examine state and federal guns with a more skeptical eye as part of the Supreme Court’s effort to protect Americans’ gun rights.
“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for selfdefense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,'” Thomas wrote for the Court in Bruen. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
The Marquette poll found Americans are well aware of the Bruen ruling, with only 28 percent saying they hadn’t heard anything about it. Their support for the Court’s decision that “the 2nd Amendment right to ‘keep and bear arms’ protects the right to carry a gun outside the home,” as the poll put it, has only increased in the months since it was handed down. In June, 56 percent agreed with the Bruen ruling. By September, the number rose to 57 percent. Marquette’s November results identified a further seven-point jump in support for Bruen.
The popularity of the Court’s pro-gun carry ruling stands in stark contrast to its overall approval. The poll found 56 percent of respondents disapproved of the job the Court is doing, while just 44 percent approved. That’s a slight improvement from September, when 60 percent were unhappy with the Court. But it still marks a sharp turnaround from September 2020, when 66 percent of the public approved of the Court’s job performance, and only 33 percent disapproved.
Marquette argued the drop in popularity is due primarily to the Court’s recent ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Approval declined sharply between July and September 2021, then fell further in May 2022 following the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade, which had permitted abortion nationwide,” the polling operation said in a press release.
66 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the ruling in Dobbs. Unlike Bruen, opinions on the Dobbs decision haven’t changed much since the case was decided in June. 64 percent opposed the outcome in July, and 67 percent were opposed by September.
Still, most Americans said they still believe in the Court as an institution. 66 percent of Americans told Marquette they still have at least some confidence in the Supreme Court.
The number of respondents who had heard of the Dobbs decision was noticeably higher than for Bruen. While a vast majority had heard of Bruen, nearly everyone had heard of Roe v. Wade being overturned. Only three percent of respondents said they’d heard nothing of the abortion decision. Marquette said the difference is evidence of how much Dobbs has dominated news coverage over the past six months compared with the Court’s big Second Amendment case.
“In contrast with the abortion ruling, the amount of news that respondents have heard concerning the Second Amendment ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen has decreased substantially since July,” the pollster said.
Marquette’s survey was conducted between November 15th and 22nd among 1,004 adults across the country. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.