(Reuters) – Most Americans support the right to use deadly force to protect themselves – even in public places – and have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association, the main gun-lobby group, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.
However, there was also strong support from respondents for background checks as well as limiting the sale of automatic weapons and keeping guns out of churches, stores and workplaces.
The online survey showed that 68 percent, or two out of three respondents, had a favorable opinion of the NRA, which starts its annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday.
Eighty-two percent of Republicans saw the gun lobbying group in a positive light as well as 55 percent of Democrats, findings that run counter to the perception of Democrats as anti-NRA.
Most of the 1,922 people surveyed nationwide from April Monday through Thursday said they supported laws that allow Americans to use deadly force to protect themselves from danger in their own home or in a public place.
“Americans do hold to this idea that people should be allowed to defend themselves and using deadly force is fine, in those circumstances,” said pollster Chris Jackson. “In the theoretical … there’s a certain tolerance of vigilantism.”
The poll was conducted amid a nationwide debate over gun rights and race after the Florida shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood crime watch volunteer who is white and Hispanic.
The poll results were welcomed by the NRA, which is one of the most powerful lobby groups in the country and regularly clashes with anti-gun groups and often with Democrats as it seeks to protect and expand gun rights across the United States.
“Regardless of how others try to distort our position, the general public knows where we stand,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “It shows the failure of the continuing efforts of many to try and discredit the National Rifle Association.”
The NRA hosts Republican presidential candidate and likely nominee Mitt Romney as a speaker at its convention on Friday.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents – with high numbers among both Republicans and Democrats – supported the use of deadly force to protect themselves from danger in their home.
Two-thirds said they backed laws permitting the use of deadly force to protect themselves in public. (Link to poll: here)
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