Who Really Knows the First Amendment???


When it comes to the First Amendment, only 1% of Americans can name all five freedoms, according to a 2019 survey by the Freedom Forum Institute.

This bilingual phone survey was conducted as a dual-frame with 1,007 adults.The average age of the respondents was 51, with 62% being males and more than two-thirds being white.  In addition to only six of the 1,007 respondents being able to name all five freedoms, 29% could not name any freedoms at all, which is down from 40% last year.

“What’s more hurtful to me is that 16% thought the First Amendment guaranteed the ‘right to bear arms,’” First Amendment Center Executive Director Lata Nott said.  “When people get worried about their freedom, they become more educated about them, more politically active and they become more involved.”    

In addition to the ‘right to bear arms’ answer, 14% of Americans also thought that “the right to vote” was apart of the First Amendment as well.  Also, 2% named something else that wasn’t a freedom. 

Social Studies, which is not offered in the high school curriculum anymore, was a subject that informed students about the First Amendment and other amendments as well.

“If people are ignorant about the First Amendment, I don’t believe it is their fault,” Lott said.  “You grow up knowing about the First Amendment in a colloquial sense. You know you have free speech, but nobody knows exactly what that means.”

Of all five freedoms that were recalled by the surveyors, 64% knew freedom of speech.   



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