Gun dealer Mel Bernstein takes down an AK-47 assault rifle from a sales rack at his own Dragonman's shooting range and gun store, east of Colorado Springs, Colo., on Feb. 5, 2013.

Three in 10 registered American voters believe an armed rebellion might be necessary in the next few years, according to the results of a staggering poll released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

The survey, aimed at measuring public attitudes toward gun issues, found that 29 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.” An additional five percent were unsure.

Eighteen percent of Democrats said an armed revolt “might be necessary,” as compared to 27 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans. Support levels were similar among males and females but higher among less educated voters.

(The remaining 1 percent refused to answer (perhaps because they didn’t want to be placed on a government watch list. )

The poll also found that 25 percent of voters believe the American public is being lied to about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by people seeking to promote a political agenda. An additional 11 percent said they weren’t sure.

The eye-opening findings serve as a reminder that Americans’ deeply held beliefs about gun rights have a tendency to cross over into outright conspiracy theories about a nefarious government seeking to trample their constitutional rights — paranoia that pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association have at times helped stoke. The data help explain why even the most modest gun safety laws face tremendous, intense opposition.

The poll, conducted between April 22-28, surveyed 863 randomly selected registered voters across the country and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Talking Points Memo