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Even gun owners agree on measures that would reduce gun violence, survey shows

Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The study also reveals some notable shifts in the American public's attitudes toward a slate of gun safety measures following dozens of mass shootings in recent years.

Between January 2015 and January 2019, Americans' support for a broad raft of gun-safety measures increased, the study authors reported. Among the measures that saw the most robust hikes in public support were those requiring all firearm purchases to be subject to background checks (rising from 84% in 2015 to 88% in 2019) and all buyers to obtain a license to own a gun (rising from 75% to more than 80% in 2019).

Support for laws requiring the safe storage of guns jumped from 69% to 74% over that four-year period. And support for laws that would allow family members and/or police officers to seek a court's permission to temporarily remove a person's guns -- so-called red flag laws -- rose from just over 70% in 2015 to close to 80% in 2019. The study authors noted that 17 states have adopted provisions allowing for such "extreme risk protection" orders.

The political affiliation of the survey taker was often a predictor of his or her opinions, but that wasn't always the case.

For 14 of the 18 gun control measures the survey asked about, support was significantly higher among self-declared Democrats than among those who identified as Independents or Republicans. But in nearly all cases, majorities of both Republicans and Independents supported tighter strictures on all the firearms policies.

The one exception was an assault weapons ban, which was favored by just over 60% of all survey-takers in 2019. While that was an increase over 2015, the difference was so small it may have been a statistical fluke.


In a state-by-state assessment of public support for the gun measures, the researchers found that in no state did support for an assault-weapons ban exceed 75%. That finding "suggests there is somewhat less appetite among the U.S. public for policies that ban certain types of firearms," the researchers wrote.

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