3/13: Americans Divide about Guns, But…

The renewed debate about gun violence in the United States has fostered little consensus among Americans.  Where do Americans stand on the issue?  They divide.  49% of adults nationally think it is more important to control gun violence while 48% believe the priority should be to protect gun rights.  Three percent are unsure.  Not surprisingly, 70% of gun owners say it is more important to protect gun rights.  Although, 28% of these residents report controlling gun violence is the priority.  Two percent are unsure.

Click Here for Complete March 13, 2013 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll Release and Tables

Registered voters’ views reflect those of Americans, overall.  49% of voters nationally say controlling gun violence is key while 49% report gun rights should take precedence.  Two percent are unsure.

By party:

  • There is a partisan divide.  More than three in four Democrats — 77% — want the priority to be controlling gun violence while 22% say protecting gun rights is the most important dimension of the issue.  One percent is unsure.
  • Among Republicans, 74% believe gun rights must be protected while 23% think controlling gun violence is the top priority.  Two percent are unsure.
  • Independent voters are more likely to align with Republicans on this question.  54% of these voters report protecting gun rights is more important.  43% believe controlling gun violence is the key, and 3% are unsure.

When it comes to specific proposals, many Americans support stricter gun regulations:

  • 84% of Americans favor background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.  15% oppose the idea, and 2% are unsure.  Even 81% of gun owners nationally support such a measure.  Registered voters mirror the overall population.  Regardless of political party, more than eight in ten favor background checks.
  • A majority of Americans — 55% — favor a ban on assault weapons.  41% oppose such a ban, and 3% are unsure.  A majority of gun owners — 55% — are against such a measure.  On this question, registered voters also reflect the views of Americans, overall.  There are partisan differences. 70% of Democrats and 54% of independents support a ban on assault weapons while a slim majority of Republicans — 51% — oppose it.
  • When it comes to banning ammunition clips that hold more than ten bullets, 52% of adults nationally favor the measure.  45% oppose it, and 3% are unsure.  Looking at gun owners in the United States, nearly six in ten — 59% — are against the proposal.  Again, registered voters are in line with Americans, in general.  When it comes to party, 71% of Democrats favor such a measure.  However, a majority of Republicans — 56% — and 51% of independents oppose banning clips with more than ten bullets.
  • Overwhelmingly, Americans — 78% — oppose reducing regulations on gun purchases to make it easier to buy and own a gun.  19% favor this action, and 3% are unsure.  Even 70% of gun owners nationally oppose this idea.  Here, too, registered voters reflect the views of Americans as a whole.  Regardless of party, more than seven in ten voters are against easing regulations to purchase a gun.

Table: More Important to Protect Gun Rights or Control Gun Violence

Table: Favor or Oppose Background Checks for Private Gun Sales and Sales at Gun Shows

Table: Favor or Oppose Ban on Assault Weapons

Table: Favor or Oppose Ban on Ammunition Clips with More than Ten Bullets

Table: Favor or Oppose Making it Easier to Purchase and Own a Gun

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample