A recent phone poll reveals a stat that is in equal measures unsettling and eye-roll inducing — of those polled, 29 percent believe “armed revolution” may be imminent and necessary, to “protect our freedoms” as Americans. Sigh.
The data on armed revolution fantasies comes from a poll out of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, conducted after the gun debate intensified following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last December.
In the wake of the incident, in which 27 people were killed before gunman Adam Lanza took his own life, the issue of gun control has become a flashpoint in the American political debate.
That guns are at issue yet again in America is not so much a concern, given the country’s traditional attachment to their weapons. But the level not only of polarization, but of anticipation of violence revealed by the poll is somewhat alarming.
While 29 percent of Americans are at least in part expecting an armed revolution any day, that number becomes even more stark and worrisome among those who identify as Republicans — 44 percent of those polled in that group felt that insurrection may be imminent.
Troublesome also was the sheer number of Americans polled who expressed suspicion about the Sandy Hook massacre and its facts — 25 percent believe “some people are hiding the truth” about the horrific murders in order to “advance a political agenda” following the murders.
Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Dan Cassino opines that the partisan nature of the gun debate has degraded so severely that any hope of reform after Sandy Hook has passed — he says in a release about the poll’s data:
“If there was a bipartisan moment after Sandy Hook to pass gun control legislation, it’s past … Partisan views have strongly re-asserted themselves, and there’s no sign that they’ll get any weaker.”
Cassino says that the nature of a voter’s beliefs about the Second Amendment are what fuels the divide — and that those who believe an armed revolution is plausible and perhaps imminent are more likely to espouse both violent ideals as well as conspiracy theories about Sandy Hook.
“The differences in views of gun legislation are really a function of differences in what people believe guns are for … If you truly believe an armed revolution is possible in the near future, you need weapons and you’re going to be wary about government efforts to take them away.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson poll addressing armed revolution and Sandy Hook conspiracy theories included 863 registered voters and was conducted in late April of 2013.