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US Citizens Fear Federal Government Threatens Rights

By KEVIN ROBILLARD

February 02, 2013 "
Politico" - -For the first time, a majority of Americans believe the federal government threatens their rights and freedoms, according to a poll released Thursday.

Fifty-three percent of Americans believe the government is a threat, and 43 percent do not, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Three-in-ten Americans believe government constitutes a major threat. In a poll conducted October 2003, only 45 percent saw government as a threat to their freedoms. Fifty-four percent do not.

Men are more likely than women to believe their rights are under attack, and Republicans (70 percent) are far more likely than Democrats (38 percent) to say so. Three-quarters of conservative Republicans say so, as do 55 percent of independents. And as President Barack Obama begins a legislative push for stricter gun control laws, 62 percent of those with a gun in the home believe their rights are threatened, compared to only 45 percent of non-gun owners.

And even Americans who donít feel threatened by Washington distrust the government and are frustrated with it. Only 26 percent of Americans believe the government does the right thing most or all of the time, and 73 percent think it does the right thing rarely or not at all.

Distrust is highest among whites ó 79 percent of them say government rarely does the right thing, compared to 59 percent of blacks and 54 percent of Hispanics. Distrust is also lowest among those 18-29. Thirty-five percent of them trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time, 10 points higher than any other age group.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans said they were frustrated with the federal government, compared to 19 percent who are angry and 20 percent who are basically content. Thatís an improvement from Aug. 2011, shortly after Congressional approval ratings plummeted after the debt ceiling fight. Then, a full 26 percent of Americans were angry, 60 percent were frustrated and only 11 percent were content.

The poll of 1,502 adults was conducted Jan. 9 to Jan. 13. It has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

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