Exactly two years after President Obama's bid for gun control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting died in Congress, a new poll has discovered a huge shift in public opinion to backing Second Amendment gun rights and away from controlling gun ownership.

The reason: Americans now believe having a gun is the best way to protect against crime, 63 percent to 30 percent.

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Pew Research Center found that while support for gun control once reached 66 percent, it has dropped to 46 percent while support for gun rights has jumped 52 percent, the highest ever in the past 25 years.

"We are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership – not gun control – makes people safer," said the survey.

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To say the shift in opinion is radical is not an understatement. It follows a short period where Americans were torn over gun ownership, but eventually sided with gun rights groups during the Obama years.

The findings also track with support for the National Rifle Association which had its second biggest national convention earlier this month and whose membership has reached five million.

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Pew suggested that the change is the result of Americans believing that crime is a big problem, despite statistics showing the opposite.

"In the 1990s, the rate of violent crimes plummeted by more than half nationwide. Public perceptions tracked right along, with the share saying there was more crime in the U.S. over the past year falling from 87 percent in 1993 to just 41 percent by 2001," said Pew, adding: "In the new century, however, there's been a disconnect. A majority of Americans (63%) said in a Gallup survey last year that crime was on the rise, despite crime statistics holding near 20-year lows."

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Pew said it is hard to explain the disconnect. "Why public views on crime have grown more dire is unclear, though many blame it on the nature of news coverage, reality TV and political rhetoric. Whatever the cause, this trend is not without consequence. Today, those who say that crime is rising are the most opposed to gun control: Just 45% want to see gun laws made more strict, compared with 53% of those who see crime rates as unchanged or dropping."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.