Filed Under:  National

Support growing for stricter gun control, poll finds

8th August 2016   ·   0 Comments

A new poll has found that support for stricter gun laws continues to grow across the U.S., but respondents also were less than hopeful about those changes happening anytime soon, according to the Associated Press-GfK survey conducted in early July.

Almost two-thirds of respondents said they support tougher gun laws, with most favoring nationwide bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and the sale of high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets.

The percentage of U.S. respondents supporting stricter gun laws is the highest it has been since the Associated Press’ GfK poll began asking the question in 2013, a survey taken 10 months after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.

Recent high-profile shootings appear to have significantly impacted Americans’ sense of safety and prompted most respondents to express concern that they or a relative will become a victim of gun violence or a mass shooting.

“If you live in the United States in these days right now, you have to be concerned,” Milonne Ambroise, a 63-year-old administrative assistant from Decatur, Ga., told The Associated Press. “You could be on the street somewhere. You could be at a shopping mall thinking there will be a mass shooting and you will be in the middle of it. You can’t not think about it.”

Ambroise, a Haitian immigrant who moved to the U.S. almost 50 years ago, said she is now much more alert and on guard whenever she is in public.

“What if I have to run?” she said.

“Where’s the exit? Where would I go?”

Race appears to be a factor in determining how concerned Americans are about becoming a victim of gun violence or a mass shooting. The survey found that nonwhites are significantly more likely to be very or extremely concerned.

Alonzo Lassiter, 66, of suburban St. Louis told The Associated Press that he is worried that his 17-year-old son who is autistic could be the victim of gun violence at the hands of a robber or the police.

“If somebody told him to get on the ground and put his hands up — or told him to give up his headphones — he wouldn’t readily identify those instructions,” Lassiter, who is Black, explained. “He may be an easy target.”

The poll was conducted July 7 to July 11, beginning just two days after Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, La. and a day after Philando Castile was killed by a cop in Minnesota. The survey also began just weeks after 50 people at an Orlando, Fla. nightclub were murdered by a lone gunman and 53 others were wounded.

The Associated Press reported that most of the interviews were conducted after Dallas gunman Micah Brown gunned down five police officers and wounded seven others.

A majority of the poll’s respondents supported a national approach to gun laws, rather than a patchwork of state laws or local regulations, even though Congress thus far has failed to act on many of the initiatives the poll showed Americans support. Fewer than half of those surveyed said they believe gun laws will get tougher over the next year.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said that laws that limit gun ownership do no infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms while 43 percent disagreed. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats support tougher gun laws compared with 41 percent of Republicans.

The survey found that women and those who live in cities and suburbs were more likely to support tougher gun laws than men and those who live in rural areas.

The survey found that there was strong support for laws that require background checks for people buying firearms at gun shows and through other private sales. A strong majority of respondents also support a ban on gun sales to individuals on the federal terrorism watch list even if they have not been convicted of a crime.

“Why should it only have to be the dealers that have to do the background checks?” John Wallace, a disabled Vietnam vet and former gun dealer who lives in Limestone, Maine, and owns several guns, told The Associated Press. “At gun shows, individual sellers should be required to do the background checks so they don’t end up selling them to the criminal element.”

Despite widespread support for stricter gun laws, the majority of respondents oppose banning handguns, imposing an Australia-style gun buyback program or making gun manufacturers or sellers liable if guns are later used in a crime.

This article originally published in the August 8, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.