October 8, 2015 2:32 AM EDT

The gun debate in the United States has changed a lot over the last 20 years. Support for gun control has declined sharply as support for gun rights has risen, as we noted earlier this week. Those trends are evident in data from a range of sources including Gallup and the Pew Research Center.

A complicated mix of emotions, attitudes and perceptions go into how people feel about guns, but when you look at the data, two points help explain the drop in support for gun control. Over the same period of time the violent crime rate has also dropped…

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