Gun Violence in the U.S., June 2022

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

More Americans Prioritize Controlling Gun Violence Over Gun Rights… Voters Reach Consensus on Many Gun Reforms… Biden Approval Rating at Lowest Point

With nearly four in ten Americans saying they or a loved one has been a victim of gun violence, the proportion of U.S. adults who think it is more important to control gun violence (59%) than to protect gun rights (35%) is at its highest point in nearly a decade. The recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde are top of mind for most Americans. More than seven in ten adults nationally report these events will make them more likely to head to the polls in November. Many gun reforms draw consensus among the American electorate who say they are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who backs these measures.

Gun Rights vs. Gun Control?
Do you think it is more important to:
Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted May 31st through June 6th, 2022, n=1,063 MOE +/-4.3 percentage points. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • Most Democrats (92%), a majority of independents (54%), and 20% of Republicans consider controlling gun violence to be the priority over protecting gun rights. 36% of gun owners agree.

  • 72% of Americans say the spate of recent mass shootings has made them more likely to vote in November, and only 4% say it has made them less likely to do so. 84% of Democrats, 66% of independents, and 65% of Republicans say mass shootings like the ones in New York and Texas are a motivating factor to cast a ballot in November.

  • Registered voters nationally say they would definitely vote for a congressional candidate who supports increased funding for mental health screening and treatment (86%), requiring background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or private sales (82%), or red flag laws (74%).

  • Though still a majority, there is less consensus on other gun reforms. 60% of voters say they would definitely vote for a candidate who wants stricter gun control laws, and 56% would support a candidate who wants to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons such as the AK-47 or the AR-15. These reforms draw prominent partisan divides between Democrats and Republicans. While a majority of independents (52%) say they would definitely vote for a candidate who wants stricter gun laws, they divide (45% definitely vote for to 48% definitely vote against) on the proposal to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

  • 51% of the electorate say they would definitely vote against a congressional candidate who wants to allow teachers to carry guns. Democrats (82%) are more than four times as likely as Republicans (19%) to oppose such a measure. Nearly half of voters (47%), including 83% of Democrats, report they would definitely vote against someone who received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and 27%, including 59% of Republicans, would definitely vote for such candidate. Of note, fewer voters (27%), compared with April 2018 (36%), report they would definitely vote for a candidate who receives donations from the NRA. A notable 25% of voters are currently unsure.

"Recent mass shootings have, again, put the debate about gun safety on the table for decision-makers," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "One side calls for greater gun restrictions while the other believes it is a mental health issue. The findings say Americans want to address both."

President Joe Biden’s job approval rating, at 38%, is his lowest since taking office although this is little changed from his score of 39% last month. Americans are nearly three times as likely to strongly disapprove of Biden’s job performance (40%) than strongly approve (14%).