A strong majority of the U.S. public not only supports requiring background checks for all gun purchases, but also supports requiring gun sellers to keep a record of their sales, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
According to the new survey, 73 percent of respondents said they favor required background checks for all gun purchases, including private ones and those at gun shows, while 15 percent said they were opposed. That support is actually slightly less than in many other surveys, some of which have found support for background checks above 90 percent.
But the new poll finds that support for requiring gun sellers to keep a record of every sale is just as high as support for background checks, with 74 percent in favor and 16 percent opposed.
The findings come at a crucial time for gun control advocates who are preparing background-check legislation for a Senate vote in a few weeks. Republicans in the chamber have, so far, rebuffed offers to co-sponsor the bill, warning that requiring sales records of transactions would pave the way for a national gun registry. Democrats have noted that sales records are already kept for the majority of transactions and that records are needed to crack down on illegal purchases. Public support appears to be on their side.
Both the background check and record-keeping proposals receive support from 9 of every 10 Democrats in the survey, as well as from more than 60 percent of both Republicans and independents. Even respondents who said they had purchased a gun within the last five years were more likely to favor than oppose each proposal. A very small 46 percent to 44 percent plurality were in favor of universal background checks and a slightly larger 48 percent to 41 percent plurality favored a requirement to keep a record of every gun sale.
Even if the bill were to end up resulting in a national gun registry (which Democrats insist will not happen) the poll suggests that most of the public would be supportive. By a 57 percent to 32 percent margin, respondents said they favor requiring all owners to register guns with a national registry.
The idea of a gun registry, while it received support from a majority of Americans, was more divisive than either expanding background checks or requiring all gun sellers to record their sales, perhaps explaining why opponents of the two proposals linked them to the idea of a registry. Republicans in the survey opposed creating a gun registry by a 59 percent to 31 percent margin, and only a quarter of respondents who said they’d purchased a gun within the last five years were in favor.
Fourteen percent of respondents personally purchased a gun within the past five years. Among those who had, a quarter said that they had not had a background check the last time they bought a gun.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Mar. 26-27 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.