In the midst of debate over the latest mass shooting, in Orlando, it's easy to imagine that guns have always divided us this way. But a close look at survey data over decades shows they haven't.
There was a time, not that long ago, when most citizens favored banning handguns, the chief gun lobbyists supported firearm restrictions, and courts hadn't yet interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing a personal right to bear arms for self-defense at home.
Today, in a country of hundreds of millions of guns, public opinion and interpretation of the law have shifted so much that outright gun bans are unthinkable. It's true that large segments of the public have expressed support for some aspects of gun regulation -- but when Americans have been asked to say which is more important, gun control or gun rights, they trend toward the latter.
Delta Theta Sigma fraternity brothers hunt for deer together on Penn State University farmland in State College, Pa, Dec. 3, 2008. The fraternity is geared toward students interested in agriculture careers, many of them avid hunters from growing up in small towns and rural areas.