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Margie Omero Headshot

Polls Show Continued Support for Stronger Gun Laws

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Once again, as I wrote a few weeks ago, polling shows more support for stricter gun laws than press coverage would suggest. A few new polls show continued broad support for a variety of stronger gun laws, and for the presidential candidates to devote more time to this issue.

CNN/ORC, using a different question format than most outlets, shows as much support for "major" restrictions on guns (38%) as "minor" restrictions (37%). It's very much worth noting that even among Independents, Republicans, and Conservatives, more say there should be "major" restrictions on guns than say "no restrictions."

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But as is typical with gun polling, specific gun laws are far more popular than the broader issue of gun laws, generally. This recent Quinnipiac/New York Times poll in three swing states shows majority support for a ban on high-capacity magazines. The poll was conducted in Virginia, Colorado, and Wisconsin--all swing states that have experienced mass shootings in recent years. Recall my firm's January 2011 national survey for Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed this to be one of least popular gun measures tested nationally. Yet even this proposal continues to receive majority support in swing states.

The CNN/ORC survey also demonstrates clear majority support for a lengthy list of stronger gun laws. Some, garner near universal support, such as "preventing certain people, like convicted felons or people with mental health problems, from owning guns" (91% favor). Even Tea Party supporters strongly support this law (92%). In fact, only two of the proposals tested were unpopular, and they are not even up for real discussion: limiting the number of guns a person could own (45% favor, 54% oppose) and preventing all Americans from owning guns (10% favor).

Further, voters say they want to hear more from the presidential candidates on guns. In the Quinnipiac/NYT poll, pluralities in the three swing states say the candidates are "spending too little time talking about laws covering gun sales."

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Despite this support for stronger laws, generally, for many specific stronger laws, and for an increased dialogue with the presidential candidates, press coverage on gun polling misses the mark. "Despite recent shootings, no change in support for gun control" reads one recent story. "No shift in opinion on gun control, post-Aurora" reads another, and this AP piece says opens with "Gun control advocates sputter at their own incompetence." Instead of focusing on the lack of change in support, press outlets should acknowledge the support for stronger gun laws that's been here all along.

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