3/13: Americans Divide about Guns, But…

McClatchy/Marist National Poll

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.

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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