2008-04-18 / Top Stories

Poll Shows Support For Gun Control

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 300 mayors, today announced the results of a new poll that reveals that Americans see stopping gun violence as one of their most important goals. Further, the survey found that there is strong support for common sense initiatives to cut down on gun violence. The poll was released during the leadup to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns National Summit.

At that event, to be held in Washington, DC on April 14, the coalition will focus on its federal legislative agenda, which will include steps to fix the federal background check system. According to the poll, Americans also favor a number of key gun safety measures, including requiring criminal background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, and prohibiting people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns. The poll found that - among those more likely to vote for a candidate for president who wants to protect Second Amendment rights - 80 percent also support prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and 77 percent want to require conduct criminal background checks at gun shows.

"We have to get away from the tired rhetoric that uses the Second Amendment as an excuse not to crack down on illegal guns," said New York City Mayor and coalition co-chair Michael R. Bloomberg. "This poll shows that more than seven in ten Americans believe that stopping gun violence is a 'very important' goal, and that gun owners support measures to crack down on illegal guns at nearly the same levels as the public at large. We should stop listening to the pundits who say that fighting illegal guns are an unpopular issue - people support reasonable restrictions that will make us safer."

"Everyday we are seeing more and more mayors join the fight against illegal guns," said Boston Mayor and coalition co-chair Thomas Menino. "This poll is a strong indication that mayors, who lead the charge to keep their communities safe, reflect the will of the public who support a commonsense approach to gun safety. The efforts by Mayors Against Illegal Guns to get illegal guns off our streets is a practical measure that all Americans can support."

The poll found that 71 percent of Americans believe that stopping gun violence is a "very important" goal. This is the same proportion of people who believe that making sure all Americans have health care is very important (70 percent), and only slightly behind the 75 percent who believe that reducing the price of gas is very important.

The poll found support for both closing the gun-show loophole and preventing gun sales to terror suspects on all sides of the political spectrum: 85 percent of John McCain's supporters back closing the gun show loophole, as do 89 percent of people who support Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Eighty-nine percent of gun owners support prohibiting people on the terror watch list from purchasing guns, as do 94 percent of McCain supporters, as well as 86 percent of people supporting one of the Democratic candidates. Large majorities of Americans say that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to close the gun show loophole (78 percent; including 45 percent who say it would make them much more likely to support that candidate) and a candidate who wants to stop people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns (78 percent; including 46 percent who say it would make them much more likely).

Other policies with overwhelming support include:

Requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on their own employees (91 percent favor);

Requiring gun retailers to inspect their inventories every year to report stolen or missing guns (86 percent favor);

Requiring all gun owners to alert the police of their guns or lost or stolen (91 percent favor); and

Prohibiting sex offenders from buying guns (82 percent favor).

According to the poll, while people do support an agenda that cracks down on illegal guns, this does not indicate that they have a negative attitude towards guns overall - their focus is on stopping gun violence and giving police the tools they need to solve crimes.

The survey, performed on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, was conducted jointly by the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which primarily works with Democratic clients, and the Tarrance Group, which primarily works with Republican clients. The poll, conducted from March 31 to April 3, surveyed 800 Americans and has margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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