Handgun Control Analysis Finds Americans Strongly Favor Specific
Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence
To: National Desk
Contact: Handgun Control Inc. www.handguncontrol.org.
WASHINGTON, May 11 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The hundreds of thousands of
mothers and others who will march on the National Mall on Mother's
Day as part of the Million Mom March Across America is evidence of a
growing national movement in support of gun control laws. These
mothers, grandmothers, mothers-to-be, dads, sisters, brothers and
concerned citizens will not just be gathering in Washington DC.
Thousands more will march in local demonstrations against gun
violence in 67 other cities across the country, calling on Congress
to pass tough gun control laws to help keep guns out of the hands of
criminals and children.
The march is the culmination of the massive groundswell of public
support for new gun control measures in communities across America in
addition to the public's frustration and outrage about lawmakers who
put the special interests of the gun lobby ahead of public safety.
But the public's support for stronger firearms regulation and gun
safety measures is not a temporary reaction to the mass shooting at
Columbine High School and in other schools, workplaces, day care
centers, even churches, across the country. According to a July 13,
1999, Washington Post op-ed article written by Tom W. Smith,
Director of the General Social Survey at the University of Chicago's
National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the public's support for gun
control already existed "...well before Littleton." In fact, Smith
writes that, "...after three years of surveying public opinion on
guns, NORC has confirmed that even before the horrendous series of
school massacres, majorities backed all measures to control guns
short of banning ownership outright." Smith continues, "The NORC
surveys show that the shootings have not created a transitory and
unreflective bubble of public opinion for gun control but rather have
focused political attention on the problem of gun violence and have
revealed that a public consensus already exists to deal with the
problem." In three annual, national surveys NORC found that
majorities of up to 90 percent back all gun safety measures except a
Handgun Control has analyzed recent polling conducted in states
across the country since the shooting at Columbine in Littleton,
Colorado, which confirms the findings of the National Opinion
Research Center and indicates that there is still overwhelming public
support for common-sense gun control laws.
In Colorado, ground zero in the debate about guns in America since
last year's tragic shooting at Columbine, support for gun control is
strong, even in a Western state with high levels of gun ownership.
An April 2000 USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll found that over 60 percent of
Coloradans feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be
made more strict. In addition, a March 2000 Denver Post poll found
that 83 percent of Coloradans support closing the gun-show loophole.
In Georgia, traditionally viewed as a solid pro-gun state, a
September 1999 Beth Schapiro & Associates poll found that 87 percent
of voters in Georgia support requiring mandatory background checks
for all sales at gun shows, even sales by unlicensed, private
dealers. The same poll found that about 60 percent of Georgian
voters support legislation to hold parents legally responsible if
their children commit crimes with the parents' guns, or a Child
Access Protection Law.
A March 2000 poll conducted by the Strategic Marking Services in
the state of Maine found that over 93 percent of the voters in the
state favored raising the minimum age under Maine state law from 16
to 21 for the purchase of handguns. Furthermore, the poll found that
over 62 percent of Maine citizens feel that gun laws covering the
sale of firearms should be made stricter.
Maryland citizens also overwhelmingly support reasonable gun
control measures. A Penn, Schoen & Berland poll conducted among
likely Maryland voters between January 25 to February 3, 2000 found
that a wide range of gun control proposals have considerable popular
support in the state. Consider this: 74 percent of Maryland voters
support mandatory handgun registration; 85 percent support requiring
potential handgun purchasers to obtain a license from the police in
order to purchase a handgun, with a fingerprint-based background
check; and 76 percent favor legislation requiring childproof guns.
New Hampshire voters also strongly favor tougher gun control laws.
A Northeastern University Poll conducted in May 2000 found that New
Hampshire residents favor the following specific measures: 89 percent
favor a law that makes gun owners responsible for keeping loaded guns
away from minor children; 66 percent favor a ban on the possession of
rapid fire assault weapons; and 65 percent favor stricter handgun
controls, or placing limitations on the sale or possession of
In Ohio, an April 1999 poll conducted by the Institute for Policy
Research at the University of Cincinnati found that most Ohioans
oppose legislation that would make it easier to obtain a permit to
carry a concealed handgun. Specifically, the Ohio Poll, which was
conducted last year when the state legislature was considering
legislation liberalizing Ohio's prohibition on carrying concealed
weapons (CCW), found that 72 percent of Ohio adults opposed making it
easier for citizens to obtain a CCW permit. More telling, 55 percent
said they "strongly" opposed the legislation, while only 17 percent
said they "strongly" favored such legislation.
Likewise, in Pennsylvania -- a state with arguably one of the
highest rates of gun owners in the country -- gun control remains a
popular concept. A February 1999 poll conducted by the American
Viewpoint, Inc. found that 71 percent -- statewide and 71 percent
rural/suburban voters supported legislation to reduce handgun
trafficking by limiting handgun purchases to one per month. What's
more, an overwhelming 88 percent both statewide and in the
rural/suburban areas favored a five day waiting period for the
purchase of handguns.
And in Texas, where Governor George W. Bush failed to act last
year to close the gun show loophole in his state, support for
mandatory background checks for all sales at gun shows is extremely
high. In fact, 85 percent of Texans, and 82 percent of Texas gun
owners, responded in an October 1999 Scripps Howard poll that they
support mandatory background checks before people -- including gun
dealers -- could buy guns at gun shows. Moreover, requiring safety
locks or trigger guards to be included with new handgun purchases has
widespread support among Texans. In fact, 79 percent of Texans (72
percent of gun owners in the state) favor such a trigger lock
proposal. Despite the high level of public support for mandatory
trigger locks for all handgun sales, Governor Bush has never
addressed the people of Texas or the Texas Legislature regarding
trigger locks, not that he didn't have the opportunity. During the
1999 session of the Texas legislature, two bills were introduced to
require the sale of child safety locks with handguns: Senate Bill
316, introduced by Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, and House Bill 489,
introduced by Rep. Glenn Lewis of Fort Worth. Both bills failed.
There is no record that Governor Bush ever contacted the authors of
these bills or worked to enact them.
Given that the public's long-standing favorable attitudes about
gun control and gun safety laws, it's no wonder that, when voters are
given the choice to express their preference for strengthening or
weakening state gun control laws, they consistently side on stronger
In 1998, for example, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed ballot
initiative Revision 12, a proposal to close the dangerous loophole in
the state's gun laws by allowing Florida counties to impose mandatory
background checks on all gun-sellers at gun shows. Despite strong
NRA opposition and a multi-million dollar campaign to defeat the
referendum, more than 70 percent of Floridians voted in favor of the
initiative to close the gun show loophole. The success of the
referendum has precipitated a domino effect, and today the gun show
loophole is a national concern.
In April 1999, the NRA suffered another major electoral defeat in
a Missouri referendum, Proposition B, on the issue of carrying
concealed handguns which they had placed on the April 6 ballot, only
two weeks before the Columbine massacre. The battle over Prop. B
marked the first time that any state's voters were given the chance
to vote on the controversial "concealed carry" issue. Missouri has
been a no-carry state that has prohibited the carrying of concealed
weapons since the outlaw days of Jesse James in 1875, and has long
been a battleground for the NRA, for whom liberalizing these laws
around the country has been a policy priority since the early '90s.
The NRA spent $4 million -- outspending their opponents by a 5 to
1 margin -- and lost 52 percent -- 48 percent. A strong bi-partisan
coalition of law enforcement, business leaders, religious, medical
and community activists organized a strong campaign to defeat the
hidden handgun measure. In what may be a prophesy for the 2000
election cycle, the Prop. B election was decided by turnout in
suburban St. Louis and Kansas City counties, typically Republican
strongholds. Suburban St. Louis County, for example, rejected Prop.
B by a 70 percent-30 percent margin.
Polling - both national and in states -- conducted over the last
few years make clear that there is consistent, popular support for
strengthening our country's gun control and gun safety laws. The
Million Mom March movement, and grassroots ballot referendum
campaigns planned in Colorado, Utah and Oregon, is further proof that
the issue of gun violence in America is building momentum as more and
more citizens are outraged by the gun lobby's dissembling and
stalling tactics on gun safety legislation being debated in Congress
and in state houses all over the country.
The national Million Mom March demonstration, will help mobilize a
potent electoral force in November by bringing in thousands of new
activists from around the country in support of reasonable gun laws.
Note: Complete polling data available to the media upon request.
Handgun Control, chaired by Sarah Brady, was founded in 1974 by
Dr. Mark Borinsky and N.T. "Pete" Shields, two victims of gun
violence. Based in Washington, D.C., HCI works with law enforcement,
public health, religious, and community groups across the country to
strengthen and protect federal, state and local gun control laws, but
does not seek to ban all guns. HCI has more than 400,000 members
nationwide, making it the nation's largest citizens' gun control
lobbying organization. More information about HCI and its sister
organization, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, can be found on
our website at www.handguncontrol.org.
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
Copyright 2000, U.S. Newswire