PEJ New Media Index: Gun Rights Stir Passions in the Blogosphere

PEJ New Media Index: Gun Rights Stir Passions in the Blogosphere

Although Supreme Court rulings rarely have been among the top social media topics, last week's decision bolstering the right to bear arms generated strong reaction in the blogosphere-almost all of it from cheering gun advocates.

For the week of June 28-July 2, more than a quarter (28%) of the news links on blogs were about the ruling, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Last week's 2nd Amendment ruling limiting cities' and states' ability to prohibit gun ownership split the Court by a 5-4 margin along conservative-liberal lines. But there was no such divide in the blogosphere where gun rights supporters dominated, applauding the ruling as a victory for both gun owners and the Constitution. Many of them also connected the split decision to Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan, expressing fear that the President would be able to tip the Court's makeup and reverse similar rulings in the future.

Gun control advocates opposing the decision seemed almost completely absent from the online conversation.

Last week's ruling marked just the second time that a Supreme Court case made the list of top stories on blogs since the NMI began in January 2009. The only other occasion came six weeks earlier. The week of May 17-21, the Court decision allowing federal officials to indefinitely hold "sexually dangerous" inmates, even after they complete their sentences, ranked 4th.

The strong reaction last week by gun rights supporters exemplifies the grassroots nature of how news stories often gain traction in the blogosphere. Be it gun control, climate change or gay marriage, individuals that care passionately about a subject often come together quickly and strongly online. And in many cases, that passion has an ideological bent as well.

Read the full report, Gun Rights Stir Passions in the Blogosphere on the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism's Web site.