STORRS, Conn. (January 31, 2013)— A majority of Americans support an array of proposals aimed at reducing gun violence, even while the overall question of gun control remains markedly divisive, according to a new University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll.
The survey found that majorities favor a reinstated ban on assault-style weapons; requiring background checks for all gun sales; a ban on ammunition clips capable of holding more than 10 rounds; creation of a federal database to track gun sales; and taking steps to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.
At the same time, barely 50 percent said they were in favor of stricter gun laws in general, while 46 percent said gun laws should either remain unchanged or become less strict.
“It’s striking that while Americans remain divided on the broader question of gun control, these specific proposals – all of which are part of President Obama’s recent set of executive orders on gun control – are finding favor with people,” said UConn Poll Director Jennifer Necci Dineen, a faculty member in the Department of Public Policy.
In Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown last month, support for stricter gun laws is significantly higher, along with support for the specific proposals, the poll found.
Sixty-four percent of Connecticut residents favor stricter gun laws, with 57 percent saying the Sandy Hook massacre has made them more likely to back gun control measures.
When it comes to making schools safer, consensus is harder to find. Although large numbers of Americans say strategies like restricting access to schools during class time and increasing police presence would likely be very effective in reducing violence, none of the proposed solutions – including changes to school buildings and arming teachers and other adults – won support from a majority.
The survey also shows that Americans don’t think the problem is confined to schools. Among the strategies aimed at combating violence, pluralities expressed support for increased spending on mental health care and reductions to depictions of violence in movies, TV, and video games.
These findings are based on The University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll. The national sample of 1,002 randomly selected adults were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28, 2013. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger for subgroups. The Connecticut sample of 511 randomly selected adults were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between Jan. 24 and Jan. 28, 2013. The margin of sampling error for the Connecticut survey is +/- 4 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger for subgroups.
The data have been weighted by the number of adults in a household and the number of telephone numbers, land and cellular, at which adults in the household can be reached in order to equalize the chances of an individual adult being selected. The data have also been weighted by the sex, race and level of education of the respondent based on the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.
The University of Connecticut-Hartford Courant Poll is a joint effort between one of the nation’s top research universities and the oldest continuously published newspaper in America. The poll’s purpose is to provide unbiased opinion research into critical questions affecting both the state of Connecticut and the nation.