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U.S. Majority Continues to Support Stricter Gun Laws

A majority of U.S. adults (67 percent) support stricter gun laws, according to survey results published March 23 by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC).

This is down slightly from a March 2018 survey, which found that 69 percent of respondents desired stricter gun laws.

The 2019 results are still much higher than in 2013 when 55 percent wanted to see the enactment of stricter laws.

By comparison, 22 percent wanted laws to remain the same (unchanged from 2018) and 10 percent desired less strict gun laws (up 1 percent from 2018).

A strong majority of respondents strongly or somewhat strongly favor all five possible restrictions included in the survey:

  • A federal law preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns: 84 percent
  • A federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers, including private sales and gun shows: 83 percent
  • Allowing courts to prevent people who are considered a danger to themselves or others, but have not been convicted of a crime, from owning a gun: 76 percent
  • Making 21 the minimum legal age to buy any gun nationwide: 71 percent
  • A nationwide ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and similar semiautomatic weapons: 60 percent

U.S. adults were divided on whether stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings.

Fifty-eight percent said there would be either many fewer or somewhat fewer mass shootings as a result, while 34 percent felt it would not make a difference and 7 percent there would be either more or somewhat more.

Out of nine venues polled – including schools, houses of faith and workplaces – airports were the only location where respondents said they felt safer now than 20 years ago.

Only 6 percent of U.S. adults felt safer today in houses of faith than they did 20 years ago, compared to 61 percent who felt less safe and 32 percent who felt “about as safe.”

This was the largest difference between safe and unsafe responses, followed closely by schools at a 13-percent (more safe) to 67-percent (less safe) margin.

Most respondents (62 percent) didn’t have a gun in their homes, compared to 35 percent who did while 3 percent declined to answer. The margin of error for the survey was plus-or-minus 4.1 percent.

The full report is available here.