Press Release

New Research Shows 73 Percent of Likely 2016 Voters Support Potential White House Executive Action to Close Key Loopholes That Let People Buy Guns Without A Criminal Background Check

January 4, 2016 – A recent survey of likely 2016 voters finds that a supermajority of voters – along with a majority of Republicans and gun owners – support a proposed executive action requiring currently unlicensed high-volume gun sellers to conduct background checks on all buyers, including online and at gun shows – by clarifying and tightening the legal definition of gun dealers, who are required under law to conduct background checks on gun sales.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired astronaut Captain Mark Kelly.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • A supermajority of voters – 73 percent – support “an executive action by President Obama that would require anyone who sells a large number of guns per year to become a licensed gun dealer and require background checks on all of their gun sales, including those sold online or at gun shows,” with a 53-percent majority saying they strongly support such action and only 25 percent opposing it.
  • A majority of Republicans support an executive action on background checks.  Despite their disagreement with the President on other policy issues, a 56 percent majority of self-ascribed Republicans support a potential executive action.
  • Nearly two-thirds of gun owners also support a potential executive action. Sixty-four percent of gun owners and 56 percent of voters who are favorably disposed toward the National Rifle Association also support a potential executive action.
  • Support among key groups like independents in presidential battleground states is high. As noted above, 70 percent of voters in the presidential battleground support a potential executive action, including 68 percent of independent voters, 76 percent of independent women, 77 percent of non-college women and 72 percent of mothers. Among young voters support jumps to 90 percent.
  • Support for potential executive action reflects the national consensus on the need for stronger gun laws. A 60-percent majority believes the laws covering the sale of guns should be made stronger, while just 7 percent believe they should be weakened.

A memo on the new research can be found here.

Under current federal law, firearms dealers deemed “engaged in the business” of selling guns are required to obtain federal dealer licenses. Becoming a licensee comeswith a critical requirement:conducting background checks on gun sales. But the language describing what it means to be “engaged in thebusiness” is inadequate andprovides insufficientguidance to individuals, law enforcement, and prosecutors. This gap in our laws allows many high-volume gun sellers to bypass the background check system, and legally sell guns to people without any questions asked and with no background check.

“This new research shows that Americans from across parties – including gun owners like us – support commonsense executive action to close loopholes in the criminal background check system and help keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “In the face of Congress’ refusal to do anything to prevent the 32,000 gun deaths each year in our country, Americans think it would be the responsible thing to do. If the President does exercise his authority, certainly some elected officials and candidates will be quick to haul out the gun lobby’s talking points and attack the President as ‘out of touch’ with the American people. This research shows just how willfully misleading and false that idea is.”

Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly met with President Obama in the Oval Office on December 4, 2015 to discuss steps that could be taken to address our nation’s gun violence crisis.

The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and surveyed 850 registered voters who said they are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers between November 16-19, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.