SANFORD, Fla. -- Two new polls in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting show divergent views among black and white Americans over whether the unarmed black teenager’s shooting was justified, and show that most residents believe they should have the right to use deadly force if their lives are threatened.
Both polls were conducted by Reuters/Ipsos. In the poll on the Feb. 26 shooting, 91% of black Americans surveyed said that the fatal shooting of Martin by Sanford neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was unjustified. Among whites, that number was 35%; among Latinos, 59%.
“This incident is one of the clearest splits we’ve seen between whites and blacks,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson told Reuters.
But, he added, most people -- whether white or black or Latino -- agreed that the full story of what happened that night would probably remain unknown.
“I think that’s indicative that they don’t really trust the whole narrative,” Jackson said. “I imagine that the way people go on this question is different -- whites don’t think the same things happened as African Americans, for instance, but they all believed that they’re not going to know what really happened.”
The online poll of 1,922 Americans was conducted between Monday and Thursday.
The second poll, on gun rights and the National Rifle Assn., found that 87% people agree that Americans should have the right to use deadly force to protect themselves if threatened in their homes. Roughly two-thirds believed people should have the right to use deadly force if threatened in public.
The poll also showed that support for the National Rifle Assn., the powerful gun-rights group, enjoys a 68% favorability rating. Further, 82% of Republicans saw the group in a favorable light, the poll found, compared to 55% of Democrats.
The poll also found widespread support for some form of gun regulation, with 91% supporting background checks for people wanting to buy a gun and with 62% opposing the right to bring guns into churches, workplaces or stores.
The poll was also taken between Monday and Thursday.