Yet polls suggest that support for gun rights is not absolute. Even gun owners support certain gun-control measures, such as increasing the amount of information fed into the federal background-check database.
As it considers new gun-control measures post-Tucson, Congress is seeking to find where, exactly, that balance now lies.
Gun-support "polls have dipped a blip after Virginia Tech or Columbine, but the long-term trend is still one that's fundamentally moving toward less support for gun control and more support for gun rights," says Charles Franklin, a pollster at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Now, if you phrase questions about extreme forms of gun rights – automatic weapons or open carry – the support is shakier."
A recent poll, jointly conducted by Democratic polling firm Momentum Analysis and Republican firm American Viewpoint, points to where gun-control laws might be successful.
Some 85 percent of gun owners (and 89 percent of Americans) would endorse a bill to require background checks for all guns sold at gun shows. An even larger share of gun owners – 90 percent – would support a bill to beef up background-check databases to better prevent the mentally ill and drug abusers from buying guns.