Poll Shows Many Would Trade Rights for Security Majority Would Trade Freedoms for Safer Streets, Neighborhoods

By 1994, Cox News Service | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 11, 1994 | Go to article overview

Poll Shows Many Would Trade Rights for Security Majority Would Trade Freedoms for Safer Streets, Neighborhoods


1994, Cox News Service, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Many Americans are so weary of crime that they are willing to give up some constitutional rights in exchange for safer streets, according to a national survey.

Researchers found that a majority of Americans favor giving police broader power to stop and search suspects - even without probable cause - and would be willing to relax the rules against the use of unlawfully obtained evidence in criminal trials.

"The bottom line: We just don't want to see criminals get off on technicalities, no matter what the cost," said James Patterson and Peter Kim, the authors of "The Second American Revolution," a book based on the polling.

The findings illustrated the nation's concern about crime and why candidates of both parties are campaigning as hard-liners.

The survey indicated that Senate Republicans might have erred politically in seeking to sidetrack the recently enacted crime bill.

The respondents surveyed favored many elements of the crime bill such as building more jails, expanding the death penalty and tightening gun control. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents said everyone convicted of a crime should serve the full sentence, without parole or probation.

The survey found 84 percent of the respondents willing to modify or even repeal the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which confers the right to bear arms, in order to disarm criminals.

"Though gun control has been portrayed consistently as a divisive issue, the majority of Americans support gun control," the pollsters concluded.

Almost 5,000 people were questioned in four polls, and the findings had margins of error ranging from plus or minus 3.1 percent to plus or minus 2.6 percent.

Among the other findings on American attitudes about crime and the justice system:

- 84 percent supported giving police greater discretion in using force - including deadly force - in apprehending suspects. …

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Poll Shows Many Would Trade Rights for Security Majority Would Trade Freedoms for Safer Streets, Neighborhoods
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