TO Interested Parties
FROM Katie Peters
DATE March 11, 2019
RE: Public Opinion Round Up: Guns Violence in America
Concern over gun violence in America has not gone anywhere. In fact, it has become an even bigger issue for American voters. The most recent Quinnipiac poll on the topic found that 60% of Americans support stricter gun laws – up from 56% in April of 2018. In a different time, voter passion in gun safety might have spiked after a tragic incident then fallen. No more.
Across the board Americans are expressing that this issue is personal to them and they don’t want a gun violence epidemic to be the new normal. Take a look at the recent trends we’ve spotlighted in the newest polls that show voters strongly support action to make the country safer.
MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT STRICTER GUN LAWS
Support for gun safety reform has not waned. Polls continue to indicate the majority of Americans desire to see the passage of stricter laws.
- Quinnipiac (March 2019): 60% of Americans support stricter gun laws in the United States; up from 56% when this question was asked in April of 2018. Among Democrats, 87% voice support stricter gun laws.
- NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll (February 2019): A solid majority of Americans, 59 percent, say their first reaction when hearing about mass shootings is that the country needs stricter gun laws. Only a quarter say their first thought is that more people need to carry a gun.
- CBS News Poll (February 2019): Overall, 56% of Americans want laws concerning the sale of guns to be more strict.
- Gallup (October 2018): 61% of Americans feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict than they are now.
AN INCREASING NUMBER OF AMERICANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE
As Americans families continue to grapple with active shooter drills and breaking news about deadly mass shootings, their concern about the problem continues to escalate.
- Reuters/Ipsos (February 2019): 85% of Americans report being concerned over gun violence in the United States and 65% of parents are worried about sending their child to school because of gun violence. These concerns blur partisan lines: 95% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans are worried about gun violence and 73% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans worry about sending their children to school.
- NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll (February 2019): 53% of Americans are concerned that a mass shooting could happen at a school in their community. Women are far more concerned than men (63% versus 43%) about that possibility.
- Quinnipiac (March 2019): 73% of voters—including 95% of Democrats, 52% of Republicans, and 74% of independents—believe that more must be done in the United States to address gun violence.
Across the board, surveys continue to show overwhelming support —including among gun owners—for universal background checks. These results are a clarion call for Congress to work across party lines to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
- Quinnipiac (March 2019): 93% of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers—including 89% of Republicans, 98% of Democrats, and 93% of Independents. Even gun owners show high support for background checks, with 87% voicing support for requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
- NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll (February 2019): 89% of Americans believe that requiring background checks at gun shows or other private sales will make a difference when it comes to reducing gun violence.
- Reuters/Ipsos (February 2019): Broad support on both sides of the aisle was measured for expanding background checks to include sales at gun shows and between private individuals, Democrats 92% and Republicans 78%.
REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SUPPORT STRONGER GUN LAWS
When it comes to public perceptions about certain legislative proposals to strengthen gun laws, voters across party lines are in agreement on major policy issues.
- Reuters/Ipsos (February 2019): Policies such as raising the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 (Democrats 82%, Republicans 63%), tracking gun sales through a federal database (Democrats 90%, Republicans 73%), banning high-capacity ammunition clips (Democrats 84%, Republicans 58%), banning military-style assault weapons (Democrats 86%, Republicans 56%), and banning semi-automatic weapons (Democrats 79%, Republicans 49%) receive majority or near majority support from both parties.
VOTER CONFIDENCE IN CONGRESS’ ABILITY TO ACT IS LOW
Despite the fact that voters on both side of the aisle support stricter gun laws and express concern for how gun violence will impact their families and communities, they have little faith that Congress will do anything to address the problem.
- Reuters/Ipsos (February 2019): Democrats and Republicans are not confident that things will change this year when it comes to gun laws. Just about four in ten Democrats (38%) and Republicans (44%) are confident that their elected representatives understand their respective views on gun ownership, and fewer than one-third of Democrats (29%) and Republicans (30%) believe that their elected representatives will do something this year to improve gun laws in the United States.
- CBS News Poll (February 2019): When thinking about the political debate over gun laws, 64% of Americans reported feeling frustrated and 39% angry. Three in four Americans, 75%, don’t think it’s likely that President Trump and Congress will pass any laws that will make significant changes to gun policy – an outlook that both gun control supporters and opponents as well as partisans of both sides share.
SUPPORT FOR THE NRA CONTINUES TO FADE
As the NRA continues to tie itself to an unpopular president, their support among Americans has plummeted. People are turned off by an NRA leadership and gun lobby that has stifled any debate over strengthening our gun laws.
- Gallup (June 2018): Since 2015, NRA favorability has dropped from 58% to 53% to 2018.
- NBC/WSJ (March 2018): The NRA is underwater, with 37% viewing the organization positively and with 40% seeing it in a negative light (-3). That’s a noticeable shift from April 2017, when it was 45% positive, 33% negative (+12). In fact, it’s the first time since before 2000 when the NRA has been viewed more negatively than positively in the NBC/WSJ poll.