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Gun safety polling round-up


TO Interested Parties

FROM Jason Phelps, National Press Secretary

DATE December 13, 2018

RE Gun safety polling round-up


As 2018 comes to a close and a new Congress prepares to take Washington in January, we’re looking back at how dramatically the issue of gun safety shifted over such a short period of time and how this will shape the politics, policies, and public sentiment around guns in the coming year.

With the midterm elections behind us, below is a round-up recent polling that goes to show that gun safety is still top-of-mind for legislators and voters, alike:

1) Americans want elected officials who support stronger gun laws. Period.

The 2018 midterm elections proved gun safety is no longer a third-rail issue. Voters, including gun-owning voters, elected representatives who favor stronger gun laws. What’s more, they rejected NRA-backed candidates. Across the country, candidates up and down the ballot made gun safety a central part of their campaigns, a message that resonated with voters. Recent Public Policy Polling shows that a majority of voters – including a majority of gun-owning voters, across 11 battleground districts – report they don’t just support stronger gun laws, but also are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports stronger gun laws, something that could have implications going into 2020.

Across 11 battleground districts:

  • At least 61% of voters (and at least 53% of gun owners) reported that they were more likely to support a candidate who wanted to reduce gun violence and improve school and community safety by banning assault weapons and bump stocks, requiring background checks on all gun sales, and raising the age of gun ownership to 21.
  • At least 83% of voters (including gun owners) support requiring background checks before the sale of any gun.
  • At least 71% of voters (and at least 63% of gun owners) reported that they were more likely to support a candidate who wants to enact policy requiring universal background checks than one that does not.
  •  Hart Research:  The enthusiasm gap between gun safety advocates and gun rights supporters has completely reversed with single-issue gun safety voters outnumbering voters who oppose stronger gun laws by a two-to-one ratio.
    • Gun violence prevention voters outnumber NRA voters by three to one in suburban communities and by five to one among suburban women.
    • 61 percent of voters say candidates should give more attention to the gun violence prevention issue. This sentiment is especially strong among suburban women (72 percent), women over 50 (70 percent), women of color (75 percent) and white college-educated women (65 percent).
    • 72 percent of voters, including majorities of Democrats (89 percent), independents (66 percent) and Republicans (56 percent) say that dealing with gun violence should be a high priority for the new Congress when it takes office in January.
  •  Kantar Media/CMAG : In 2018, campaigns ran 22x the number of pro-gun safety ads compared to 2014. And with a new gun safety majority in the House of Representatives, clearly that positioning paid off.
    • In toss-up House races, 93 percent of gun-related ads favored stricter gun control.
    • In Nevada and Florida, ads went from zero pro-gun safety ads in 2014 to more than 45,000 this year.
  • Global Strategy Group: In battleground districts like VA-10 and MN-02, guns were ranked just second in their list of priorities, trailing only healthcare.
    •  In VA-10, two-thirds of voters – 69 percent – considered “guns” a major issue when deciding whom to vote for in November, trailing only healthcare at 76 percent. Gun issues are more important to voters than a candidate’s position on Trump, taxes, women’s rights, or the environment.
    • Guns were also a top issue for MN-02 voters, second only to health care, and nearly two-thirds of voters – 65% – consider “guns” a major issue when deciding whom to support this November.

2) Gun violence is impacting Americans’ lives in unprecedented ways, underscoring the urgent need for guns safety measures

Recent data show the threat of gun violence is more prevalent than ever. Data released earlier this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  on 2017 gun deaths show that America’s firearm death rate rose for the third year in a row, after remaining stable for a decade before that. Death by firearms is now outpacing death by car crashes by more than 1,000. The research shows that in 2017, the gun suicide rate rose to its highest level since the late 1990s and that an average of 109 people were killed by guns each day. These horrific statistics simply go to show that the need for meaningful action to address this crisis is needed more than ever – and the majority of Americans agree that stronger gun laws are needed.

  •  Gun Violence Archive : So far, in 2018, there have been 328 mass shootings
  • Gallup: With 4 in 10 Americans fearful of being a victim of a mass shooting, 61 percent of Americans and 87 percent of Democrats think gun laws should be stricter.
  •  Pew : A clear majority – 57 percent – say gun laws should be more strict than they are currently, an increase from last year
    • Nearly half of Americans – 47 percent – say there would be fewer mass shootings if it was harder for people to legally obtain guns in the U.S.
      • Two-thirds of Democrats – 67 percent – say making it harder for people to obtain guns would result in fewer mass shootings
  •  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  Gun suicides and homicides are a leading cause of injury death for Americans at nearly every age.
    • In 2017, more than 9 children and teens (0-19) were killed each day.
    • Increases in firearm homicides and assaults have hurt underserved communities of color particularly hard. In 2017, black men made up less than 7 percent of the population but accounted for more than half of gun homicide victims.

3) With a record number of school shootings in 2018, young people have emerged as some of the strongest advocates for gun reform.

 With nearly 100 school shootings just this year – far outpacing any previous year – students have quickly become the face of the gun violence prevention movement as they speak out, organize, march, and vote for their lives. Since Parkland, students have also emerged as a potent political force, registering hundreds of thousands of young people to vote, specifically around the issue of stronger gun laws. Now, we have a newly engaged generation of voters for whom gun safety is not just a priority, but a fight for their own livelihoods.

  •  Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security : 2018 saw the most school shootings in a year on record with 94 incidents of school shootings, almost a 60 percent increase on the previous record of 59 incidents in 2006.
  •  Public Policy Polling : To prevent school shootings, voters want to strengthen gun safety laws, not arm teachers.
    • 59 – 71 percent of voters (55 – 68 percent of gun owners) think banning assault weapons and bump stocks, requiring background checks on all gun sales, and raising the age of gun ownership to 21 is a better strategy than buying guns, arming teachers and allowing private citizens and employees to carry hidden, loaded guns in schools.
  •  The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE): Young people are more engaged in politics than ever and turned out in unprecedented numbers in this year’s midterm election.
    • Roughly 31 percent of youth (ages 18-29) turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms, an extraordinary 48 percent increase over 2014, when day-after exit poll calculation suggested that just 21 percent of eligible young voters went to the polls.
    • The proportion of young people who joined protests and marches tripledsince the fall of 2016, from 5 percent to 15 percent. Participation was especially high among young people who are registered as Democrats.

4) The NRA’s reputation is in tatters

Once a powerhouse political force, the NRA is now underwater and under investigation. In the span of a year, the NRA’s reputation is in tatters and will get worse before it gets better. For the first time in recent memory, the NRA largely sat out the election, spending 68% less than they did in the last midterm campaign. Now, gun violence prevention groups like Giffords have eclipsed the NRA in political power and influence, spending about  $2.4 million more  than gun rights groups on congressional races in 2018.

  •  Hart Research: NRA donations are toxic for voters. 41 percent of voters reported that learning that a candidate had accepted campaign donations from the NRA would reduce their likelihood of supporting the candidate. Compare this with just 16 percent who reported that it would increase their likelihood of supporting the candidate.
    • 67 percent of voters prefer a candidate who does not take money from the gun lobby over one who does.