A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that a majority of voters support stricter gun control laws in the wake of last week’s mass murder of 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas by a single man with nearly two dozen firearms shooting from the window of his 32nd-floor hotel room.
On most of the proposals to regulate gun ownership — including background checks, restrictions on where Americans can carry firearms and prohibitions against accessories like the “bump fire” stocks used by the Las Vegas gunman — large majorities express support in the poll, conducted last Thursday through Monday.
But despite those findings, voters still don’t think the chances are high that Congress will act to strengthen federal firearm laws, even after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. And slightly more voters still say it’s more important to protect Americans’ right to own guns than it is, in general, to limit gun ownership.
Sixty-four percent of voters support stricter gun laws, the poll shows, including 41 percent who strongly support them. Less than 3-in-10 voters, 29 percent, oppose stricter gun laws, including 16 percent in strong opposition.
That’s a slight increase in support from June of this year, when 61 percent of voters backed stricter gun laws and 33 percent opposed them.
Democratic voters are overwhelmingly supportive of new gun laws: Eighty-three percent back stricter laws, compared with only 12 percent who oppose them. Among independents, 58 percent support stricter gun control, and a third oppose them.
But the poll also finds some less-likely groups are closely split. Forty-nine percent of Republican voters support stricter gun control laws, and 45 percent oppose them. Among voters who said they supported Donald Trump in last year’s election, 46 percent are in favor of stricter gun laws and 48 percent are opposed.
A 55 percent majority of gun owners back new restrictions, while 41 percent oppose them.
Seventy-nine percent of voters support banning the use of bump fire stocks — the device the Las Vegas shooter used to modify a dozen of his semi-automatic weapons to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. Only 13 percent of voters oppose banning bump fire stocks.
A number of specific proposals garner significant public support, with more than eight in 10 voters backing required background checks on all gun sales (88 percent), preventing sales of all firearms to people who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental-health provider (87 percent), making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks (84 percent), preventing those convicted of violent misdemeanors from buying guns (83 percent) and barring gun purchases by those on the federal “no fly” or terrorist watch lists (82 percent).
“The results of this survey demonstrate there is support for at least some new gun control measures, even if support for whole-scale reform is murkier,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer. “Sixty-four percent of voters, including 49 percent of Republicans, support stricter gun laws. There are also individual proposals that receive even broader backing, such as 84 percent support for closing the gun show loophole.”
Other proposals earning majority support: requiring all owners to store their guns in a safe storage unit (77 percent), creating a national database for each gun sale (76 percent), requiring a three-day waiting period for gun purchases (76 percent), banning assault-style weapons (72 percent), banning high-capacity magazines (72 percent), prohibiting Americans from carrying guns at schools and on college campuses (69 percent), limiting Americans to one firearms purchase per month (69 percent), limiting ammunition purchases (69 percent) and banning firearms from all workplace settings (59 percent).
Voters don’t believe it’s likely that Congress will act on these proposals, however. Only a combined 26 percent say there’s an excellent or good chance of stricter gun control laws passing Congress in the next year or so, the poll shows. A quarter say the chances are fair, while 38 percent say the chances are poor that Congress will pass stricter gun laws.
Moreover, backing for stronger gun laws is weaker on two other measures. If stronger laws are enacted, just 40 percent say they think gun violence will decrease because it will be harder for “criminals and persons with mental-health issues” to acquire guns, while 32 percent think gun violence will increase “by making it more difficult for people to defend themselves against criminals and persons with mental-health issues.”
Voters are evenly divided on which party in Congress they trust more on gun policy: Thirty-nine percent trust Democrats, and 38 percent trust Republicans. The remaining 23 percent are undecided.
And given a choice between protecting the right of Americans to own guns and limiting gun ownership, 47 percent think it’s more important to protect gun rights, while slightly fewer — 42 percent — say limiting gun ownership is more important.
Among Republican voters, 70 percent say it’s more important to protect gun rights, compared with 23 percent who say limiting gun ownership is more important. A quarter of Democrats think it’s more important to protect gun rights, while 63 percent lean toward limiting gun ownership. Independents tilt toward protecting gun rights, 49 percent to 36 percent.
Voters with at least one gun in the household think it’s more important to protect gun rights — by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, 66 percent to 27 percent. But a 51 percent majority of voters without guns in the home think it’s more important to limit gun ownership.
The poll surveyed 1,996 registered voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.