Civic Education

22% of Americans think First Amendment protects gun rights, says poll released before Constitution Day

  • Print

civics books concept

In the 2023 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey, 1,482 people were asked to name the specific rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Image from Shutterstock.

Seventy-seven percent of surveyed Americans were able to recall that the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but less than half were able to name other rights protected by that amendment.

The 2023 Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey asked Americans to name the specific rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The results:

  • 77% said freedom of speech
  • 40% said freedom of religion
  • 33% said the right to assembly
  • 28% said freedom of the press
  • 9% said the right to petition government

Twenty-two percent named the right to bear arms, which is actually protected by the Second Amendment.

Only 5% correctly named all five First Amendment rights. Twenty percent could not correctly name any.

The survey also found that 66% of Americans can name the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial).

A press release and specific results are here and here.

The civics survey is released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center to celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 17, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1787.

The survey of 1,482 adults was conducted online. The Annenberg Public Policy Center is shifting from telephone surveys, which have become increasingly difficult to administer because of low response rates. Online respondents generally have better knowledge than phone respondents.

ABA President Mary Smith has issued a statement regarding Constitution Day.

“The Constitution begins with the phrase ‘We the People,’ which stands as a powerful reminder that America was founded upon the principle that our government derives its power from its citizens and all their diverse voices,” Smith said.

“As president of the American Bar Association, I hope to highlight the breadth and depth of these diverse—and often-overlooked—voices. It is only by together lifting our voices and charting the future that we will realize the Constitution’s promise of a more perfect union. All of us together are the voices of democracy.

“But American democracy requires our constant care, vigilance and full participation. The ABA has taken a leading role in encouraging people to be involved in our democracy, and our newly formed ABA Task Force on American Democracy will enhance those efforts and help bolster the protections of our institutions and the rule of law.

“The ABA invites all members of the legal profession and people across the nation to become active participants in our democracy this Constitution Day!”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.