Study finds sup­port for back­ground, men­tal health checks for gun buys

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LISA MARIE PANE

AT­LANTA | Amer­i­cans have long had a com­plex re­la­tion­ship with guns.

Now, a new study shows that the coun­try’s deep po­lit­i­cal di­vide is re­flected in at­ti­tudes to­ward gun con­trol. The Pew Re­search sur­vey re­leased Thurs­day found a sharp drop in over­all sup­port for gun con­trol de­spite com­mon ground on some key is­sues.

For ex­am­ple, when peo­ple were asked whether it is more im­por­tant to pro­tect gun rights or con­trol gun own­er­ship, 51 per­cent fa­vored gun con­trol and 47 per­cent fa­vored gun rights. Com­pare that with re­sponses in 2000, when twothirds of those sur­veyed said they sup­ported gun con­trol mea­sures.

Peo­ple in the new sur­vey were in broad agree­ment when asked about spe­cific gun con­trol mea­sures.

Some 89 per­cent sup­ported pre­vent­ing the men­tally ill from buy­ing guns, and 84 per­cent of all adults sup­ported back­ground checks for pri­vate sales and at gun shows.

Bar­ring gun pur­chases for peo­ple on no-fly lists won sup­port from 83 per­cent, while 71 per­cent of adults, in­clud­ing a small ma­jor­ity of gun own­ers, sup­ported a fed­eral data­base track­ing gun sales.

The sur­vey showed wide dis­par­i­ties in how peo­ple view firearms along po­lit­i­cal, gen­der, racial and ge­o­graphic lines. The gaps come at the start of Pres­i­dent Trump’s term. He is seen as one of the most gun-friendly pres­i­dents, and could be sup­ported by a GOP-con­trolled Congress, although there has been lit­tle ac­tion on gun is­sues since Jan­uary.

About half of the public said mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to pur­chase a firearm would mean fewer mass shoot­ings, while a lit­tle over one-third said it would have no im­pact.

Most at­tribute gun vi­o­lence to the ease in il­le­gally get­ting ac­cess to a firearm, and the public can’t de­cide whether mak­ing it eas­ier to legally pur­chase a firearm would lower or raise the crime rate.

Repub­li­cans have made the most sig­nif­i­cant shifts on guns, while Democrats have re­mained con­sis­tent in their views, said Kim Parker, Pew’s di­rec­tor of so­cial trends re­search.

“This re­flects that the is­sue has re­ally be­come more po­lar­ized, more driven by par­ti­san at­ti­tudes,” Ms. Parker said.

The study also showed that peo­ple in the United States, whether they own a firearm or not, have broad ex­po­sure to guns. At least two-thirds have lived in a house­hold with guns, and about 70 per­cent have fired a gun.

The main rea­son most cited for want­ing to own a gun? Pro­tec­tion.

Two-thirds of gun own­ers say they own a gun to pro­tect them­selves or loved ones. Nearly one-third of gun own­ers have five or more. Still, just one-quar­ter of them said they usu­ally carry a firearm out­side the home.

That will­ing­ness to pur­chase a firearm is de­spite the fact that 44 per­cent of adults said they per­son­ally know some­one who was shot, and about one-quar­ter say they or a fam­ily mem­ber have been threat­ened or in­tim­i­dated by some­one with a gun.

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