Poll: Ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans fa­vor stricter gun laws

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY LISA MARIE PANE AND EMILY SWANSON

A ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans fa­vor stricter gun laws, and most be­lieve places of wor­ship and schools have be­come less safe over the last two decades, ac­cord­ing to a new poll con­ducted by The As­so­ci­ated Press-NORC Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs Re­search.

The sur­vey was con­ducted both be­fore and af­ter this month’s mass shoot­ing at two mosques in New Zealand. It found that 67 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port mak­ing US gun laws stricter, while 22 per­cent say they should be left as they are and 10 per­cent think they should be made less strict.

The New Zealand shoot­ing on March 15 did not ap­pear to have an im­pact on Amer­i­cans’ sup­port for new gun laws; sup­port for tighter gun laws was the same in in­ter­views con­ducted be­fore and af­ter the shoot­ing.

While a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans have con­sis­tently said they sup­port stronger gun laws, pro­pos­als have stalled re­peat­edly in Congress in re­cent years, a marked con­trast to New Zealand and some other coun­tries, such as Aus­tralia, that have acted swiftly af­ter a mass shoot­ing. Less than a week af­ter the mosque shoot­ings, New Zealand moved to ban “mil­i­tary-style” semi­au­to­matic weapons and high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines; sim­i­larly, af­ter a mass shoot­ing in 1996, Aus­tralia en­acted sweep­ing gun bans within two weeks.

The new poll sug­gests many Amer­i­cans would sup­port sim­i­lar mea­sures, but there’s a wide gulf be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans on ban­ning spe­cific types of guns. Over­all, 6 in 10 Amer­i­cans sup­port a ban on AR-15 ri­fles and sim­i­lar semi­au­to­matic weapons. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, but just about 4 in 10 Repub­li­cans, sup­port that pol­icy.

Repub­li­cans are also far less likely than Democrats to think that mak­ing it harder to buy a gun would pre­vent mass shoot­ings, 36 per­cent to 81 per­cent. Over­all, 58 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think it would.

Still, some gun re­stric­tions get wide sup­port across party lines. Wide shares of both Democrats and Repub­li­cans sup­port a universal back­ground check re­quire­ment, along with al­low­ing courts to pre­vent some peo­ple from buy­ing guns if they are con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous to them­selves or others, even if they have not com­mit­ted crimes.

In con­trast to New Zealand, the United States has en­acted few na­tional re­stric­tions in re­cent years. In part, that’s a re­flec­tion of gun rights be­ing en­shrined in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion; in a poll by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter in spring of 2017, 74 per­cent of gun own­ers said the right to own guns is es­sen­tial to their own sense of freedom.

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