BELLEVUE, WA – An overwhelming majority of Washington residents, including a huge segment of the minority community, agree with US Attorney General John Ashcroft’s view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, according to a recent survey by Rasmussen Research, a polling group based in Raleigh, NC.

Respondents to the Portrait of Washington poll, conducted by Rasmussen Aug. 7-12, also supported, by a 3-to-1 ratio, current state laws that allow licensed private citizens to carry concealed handguns following a background check. Rasmussen contacted 1,162 Washingtonians for the survey.

“Just as they soundly rejected Initiative 676 in 1997, Washington residents have once again clearly demonstrated their support for gun owners’ rights,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).

Individual Right

Rasmussen’s polling data shows that 73.7 percent of those interviewed believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to own a firearm. That figure includes 70.4 percent of the women who responded. Significantly, the poll showed 73.7 percent of white survey respondents and a whopping 74.1 percent of minorities agree the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

For years, gun control advocates have argued that the Second Amendment only protects a state’s right to organize a militia. They have remained relatively silent about the Washington State constitution, which specifically states that individual citizens have the right to keep and bear arms for personal defense “and defense of the state.”

“Over the years, gun rights advocates have been ridiculed by the gun control crowd and the press as being out of touch with voters,” Gottlieb said. “This new survey clearly shows that Washington residents believe strongly in their gun rights. Looks to me that the gun control extremists, and their media cheerleaders, are the ones who are out of touch.”

Concealed Carry

Over 75 percent of survey respondents also support the right of Washingtonians to carry handguns for personal protection. That figure includes 79.3 percent of the men who responded and 72 percent of women. Broken down by race, 75.6 percent of whites and 75.7 percent of minority respondents support licensed concealed carry.

“Self-defense isn’t an issue of gender or race, and it never has been” Gottlieb noted. “It’s a matter of personal protection, and this survey proves it. Take away the alarmist rhetoric from gun control fanatics, and you find that Washingtonians, no matter who they are, take their safety very seriously, and believe they have a right to protect themselves from crime by carrying a firearm.”

Democrats and Guns

The Rasmussen survey also revealed that more voters might support Democrats if the party backed away from restricting the rights of gun owners. Asked if they would be more inclined to vote for Democrats who dropped gun control from their campaign platforms, the survey found 54.9 percent of the respondents would look more favorably on Democrat candidates.

“Nationally,” Gottlieb observed, “Democrat party strategists have been suggesting for months that the gun issue defeated Al Gore in three critical states, including his home state of Tennessee. This survey indicates that Democrats might be better able to sell their message at the state level here in Washington if they stop trying to infringe on the firearm civil rights of the voters they are elected to represent.

“And maybe that’s the key issue Democrats need to understand,” Gottlieb concluded. “Contrary to what anti-gunners seem to have been telling Democrats and some easily-influenced Republicans over the years, state lawmakers are elected to represent the people, not rule them.”