Most Americans don't want to see guns in public places

June 09, 2014, 7:48 PM GMT+0

Most Americans disapprove of people openly carrying guns in public, and tend to think that more people carrying firearms would make people less safe, not more safe – except during mass shootings

A group called Open Carry Texas has been attracting national attention in recent weeks after they have begun to organize a series of protests in support of open carry laws. The protests have seen men and women carrying assault rifles and other weapons into restaurants such as Chipotle and stores such as Target. The campaign may have backfired, however, as many of the stores they visited have now instituted policies banning firearms from their premises.

YouGov's latest research shows that, according to most Americans (53%) even law abiding citizens should not be openly carrying guns in public places. 38% of Americans (and 58% of Republicans) approve of open carry, while Democrats are resolutely opposed (78%) and Independents are effectively split, with 44% approving of open carry and 45% disapproving of open carry.

Open carry laws, such as the ones in Texas, tend to allow almost any legal gun owner to carry a weapon as long as it is clearly visible and not carried in a 'concealed' manner. Defenders of laws allowing people to carry weapons in public say that having more armed and law abiding citizens will help deter criminal acts and ensure that crimes or mass shootings, when they do occur, are cut short. Critics note, however, that even trained police officers are can be highly inaccurate during stressful situations and that more armed civilians would cause more deaths in the day to day than would be saved during mass shootings.

When Americans are asked whether they think that more people carrying weapons would make people safer, only 28% agree. 21% say that it would make little difference either way, but 39% say that if it were more common for people to carry guns with them that people would be less safe. Asked specifically about mass shootings, however, people narrowly agree (46%) that arming more people would be a 'good defense' than disagree (41%).

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty