The survey shows 52 percent of respondents saw gun rights as more important than controlling gun ownership, up from 45 percent in 2012. Additionally, 57 percent of respondents said guns help prevent becoming a victim of crime, up from 48 percent in 2012.
The shift in attitudes about firearms has come as gun sales have increased nationwide. In Pennsylvania, the rise in sales and transfers (person-to-person transaction overseen by a dealer) over the past few years has been dramatic.
State data showing rapidly increased gun sales indicate that Pennsylvanians, who have long had a tradition of sports firearms, are increasingly acquiring handguns, the type of weapon traditionally associated with self-protection. Handgun sales increased by 171 percent between 2001 and 2013, according to data from state police.
Total gun sales and transfers peaked in 2012 at 1,214,929, or about 10 per 100 people. In 2013, the number of sales and transfers in the state dropped to 808,507.