New poll: Most California voters fear gun violence; politicians divided
Following two high-profile mass shootings in California, the majority of voters surveyed in a new statewide poll said they worry that gun violence will affect them or someone close to them.
The survey also revealed a stark political divide over fear about gun violence among Californians, and of the disproportional concern among women, city residents and people of color in the state.
Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they were worried about becoming a victim of gun violence or having someone close to them being harmed, with 30% saying they were very concerned, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
Fear was most prevalent among Democrats, with 78% expressing concern compared with 61% of unaffiliated independent voters and 36% of Republicans.
The deep political polarization on firearms in the United States “is evident everywhere in this poll,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies.
“What was most striking to me had to do with the fears of gun violence affecting their own personal lives. I wouldn’t have expected there to be a huge partisan divide on that,” DiCamillo said. “But the perception is very different. Republicans are not expressing nearly as much concern about it as Democrats. And that really ties into their views on guns more generally.”
Black, Asian, Latino and female voters, along with those who lived in urban and suburban areas, were more likely to report fear of being personally affected by gun violence than white, male and rural voters, the poll found.
Christian Heyne, vice president of policy and programs at Brady: United Against Gun Violence, called the results “jarring.”
“I don’t think there are people in other industrialized countries throughout the world that would have a similar percentage of fear by population. And I think that’s because we stand uniquely in a position where gun violence is a reality, that our laws and access to weapons mean that no community can feel safe from gun violence.”
That partisan divide extends to stricter gun control laws to prevent mass shootings. Fortyfive percent of voters surveyed said they would help a great deal, and 18% said they would help some, while 34% said they would not help much.