Gun legislation is a divisive issue, particularly on the campaign trail, where it has long been a staple of attack ads against candidates from both parties. According to a study first shared with POLITICO, voter attitudes toward gun policy aren’t as divided as they appear.
97Percent, a bipartisan group of gun owners and non-gun owners that conducts research on gun safety policies, surveyed 1,078-gun owners nationwide to examine their perceptions of specific gun safety policy details in a report released Wednesday. The study discovered widespread support among gun owners for laws aimed at preventing people at high risk of violence from obtaining firearms.
Gun policies and crime have consistently been top priorities for voters this midterm election cycle, but most polling hasn’t focused on gun owners’ perspectives. According to the report, three-quarters of gun owners are concerned about school shootings, and 71% are concerned about mass shootings. Sixty-six percent are concerned about an increase in urban gun-related homicides and gun crimes. More than 80% believe that people convicted of a violent crime should not be able to buy or possess a gun.
These views aren’t limited to Democrats or independents; Republican gun owners share them as well. Fourty percent of those polled identified as Republicans, while 35 percent identified as Democrats and 17 percent as independents.
According to the polling, gun owners support red flag laws, universal background checks, required permits for the purchase or possession of a gun, and violent misdemeanor laws. According to the study, these policies have the potential to reduce firearm homicide rates by up to 28%. Furthermore, when specific provisions are included in gun laws, gun owners’ support increases. Respondents also stated that there is no “inherent conflict between constitutional protection of gun rights and new laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at high risk of violence.”
The most popular law among gun owners (78%) is one that prohibits those convicted of domestic violence crimes from possessing firearms. Republican gun owners are equally supportive of the legislation. Republican respondents also supported requiring background checks for concealed carry permits and prohibiting gun possession by people subject to a domestic violence restraining order (75%).
However, only one-third of gun owners support an assault weapons ban. Republican gun owners have even less support: only 16%. Sixteen percent of Republican gun owners support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, compared to 29 percent of all gun owners.
This research, according to Siegel, should send a message to lawmakers that “you don’t have to go back to your state and pass 20 different laws trying to regulate every single aspect of firearms; you just have to go back and pass a few laws that fulfill the principles that both gun owners and non-gun owners have.”
President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill in June, marking Congress’ first significant response to mass shootings in nearly three decades. It includes strict restrictions on gun ownership aimed primarily at keeping guns out of the hands of people experiencing mental health crises. The bill was opposed by a large majority of House Republicans, who claimed it would limit Second Amendment rights.
With less than a month until Election Day, candidates on both sides have been emphasizing gun violence. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released an ad earlier this week featuring the mother whose son was shot earlier this year during the Tops supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York. “Chuck Schumer acted while we were healing,” she says. “He enacted the most stringent gun-control legislation in 30 years.” It will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.”
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used a soft-on-crime framing against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in a Tuesday ad. “My son Diego was murdered,” a woman says in the advertisement. “The county released the gunman on bond. He violated it 37 times, then shot another person. Why did the county even let my son’s murderer out of jail? Beto O’Rourke favors easy bail.”