Polls show what Americans think about gun control laws
A review of nine recent national polls shows that two gun control ideas have widespread support among Americans, and citizens have concerns about Second Amendment issues.
Constitution Daily looked at polls and surveys taken this month from sources including Gallup, Pew Research, Public Religion Research Institute, CNN/Time, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Fox News, ABC/Washington Post, AP-GFK, and CBS/New York Times.
While the nine polls didn’t ask many of the same questions, or asked about gun violence in the context of other issues, there were 12 gun-related topics that were addressed in at least two polls.
In fact, the same three hot-button questions popped up in seven of the nine polls.
By an overwhelming majority, Americans favor background checks for gun sales and in most cases, for sales at gun shows. The average response was 88 percent in favor of background checks, with a low of 84 percent for the Associated Press poll and a high of 92 percent in surveys from CBS and CNN.
Two other questions, asked in seven polls, were about controversial measures that will be included in proposed congressional anti-gun-violence legislation.
By an average response of 57 percent, people favored a ban on high-capacity gun clips, while 56 percent of Americans approved of a ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.
But when it comes to a perceived need for gun control versus the right to own guns, as interpreted by courts in the context of the Second Amendment, Americans seem split on the issue.
About 50 percent of people, in an average of three polls, were concerned that gun-control legislation would take weapons away from them, or believed protection from gun violence was a lesser concern than protecting their Second Amendment rights.
In addition to background checks, another idea that has widespread support is devoting more funds and attention to mental health issues. An average of 83 percent of people surveyed in four polls favored increased attention to mental health programs.
Of the 12 ideas that appeared across the grouping of nine polls, the least popular was arming teachers and school officials with guns. It only had a support rate of 41 percent.
The National Rifle Association was given a favorable rating of 48 percent in an average of five polls.
While that number may seem low, the NRA compared favorably to other organizations, especially in a poll from NBC and The Wall Street Journal.
In the NBC poll, the NRA received a 41 percent favorable rating, compared with 24 percent for the entertainment industry.
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On Thursday, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a proposed assault weapons ban at a press conference in Washington. Her proposal includes a ban on guns that have a permanent magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The measure is expected to have a difficult time passing in the Senate before it can head to a GOP-controlled House.
Senator Joe Manchin says he’s working with the NRA on the issue of background checks as he seeks to push out a separate piece of legislation. The NRA has indicated in some recent public comments that it may support stricter background checks, with some exceptions.
In its own polling, the NRA says its members widely support keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and they are deeply opposed to bans on semi-automatic weapons.
Table: Results from Recent Polls with Gun-Control Questions
|Mandatory background checks||85||91||91||89.5||92||84||88||88.6|
|More mental health programs/prevent sales||80||82||89||82||83.3|
|Stricter enforcement of current laws||72||86||79.0|
|National database of gun sales||67||78||71||72.0|
|Concerns about limits on media violence||52||75||54||60.3|
|Support armed guards in schools||64||60||54||55||58.3|
|Ban high-capacity clips||54||54||56||58||63||51||65||57.3|
|Ban semi-automatic and assault weapons||56.5||60||54||56||53||55||58||56.1|
|Favor stronger gun control laws||53||60||55||56||54||58||56.0|
|Taking guns/concerned about Second Amendment||45||51||53||51||50.0|
|Favorable opinion of the NRA||57||56||48||41||38||48.0|
|Support arming teachers with guns||40||42||41.0|