California voters support a wide range of gun-control measures and say it’s more important to protect people from gun violence than to protect Second Amendment rights, according to a new statewide poll.
When asked whether they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence than protect American’s right to own guns, a majority of California voters — 51 percent — said that they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence; 46 percent agreed “strongly” with that statement. In comparison, 37 percent of voters said it’s more important to protect the right to own guns, with 32 percent agreeing “strongly.”
The University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of 1,501 registered voters, conducted March 11-17 by two polling firms – one Democratic, one Republican – has a 2.9-point margin of error.
The poll found about a quarter of Californians own a firearm, compared to about 34 percent of American households as estimated by a recent General Social Survey.
“Politics is a natural outgrowth of culture,” poll director Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who directs USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said in a news release. “And because the percentage of Californians who own guns is so much lower than the ownership rates of guns in other parts of the country, it shouldn’t surprise us that Californian’s attitudes toward gun control are much stronger than places where people are more likely to own or maintain a firearm.”
The gap between those emphasizing gun-violence reduction and protection of gun rights in this poll isn’t as large as that reported by the Field Poll last month; that earlier poll found 61 percent preferred imposing greater controls while 34 percent preferred protecting gun rights.
Asked about potential ways to curb gun violence, 92 percent of California voters told the USC/Times poll that they support background checks for all gun sales, which the state already requires; only 6 percent were opposed.
On other proposed gun-control measures:
89 percent favor updating the national database used for background checks by improving the reporting of mental health records, while 8 percent oppose;
87 percent favor increasing penalties for those who commit crimes with guns, while 9 percent oppose;
85 percent favor increasing penalties for those who illegally buy, while 12 percent oppose;
79 percent favor requiring ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks, while 19 percent oppose; and
71 percent favor requiring all gun owners to be registered, licensed and insured, while 26 percent oppose.
Lots more, after the jump…
Although 66 percent of voters oppose (and 31 percent favor) arming teachers, administrators or janitors in schools to protect campuses against violent intruders, 52 percent support allowing school districts to spend education funds on armed security guards to protect campuses, with 43 percent opposed to that.
Across party lines, 64 percent of registered Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of nonpartisan voters favor the armed-guards-in-schools idea. Also, 53 percent of women and 52 percent of men are in favor of arming guards, while 53 percent of parents and 53 percent of those without children favor it.
And 62 percent of Californians favor enacting a nationwide assault weapons ban (which the state already has), with 33 percent opposed.
“In the last several days, it’s become clear that passing an assault weapons ban in Congress will be extremely difficult,” Schnur said. “But in California, it would pass overwhelmingly. Right down the line, Californians have made it clear how strongly they support the idea of gun control.”
The poll found three-quarters of Californians favor and only 15 percent oppose a bill – SB 140 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco – that would use surplus funds from background check fees to provide more funding for California authorities to seize weapons owned by convicted felons and people with serious mental illness. California authorities have the power to do this, but staff shortages and funding cuts have curtailed law enforcement’s abilities to follow through.
45 percent of California voters agreed more closely with the statement “now is the time to get serious about preventing gun violence,” and that it is too easy to for dangerous people to get military-style weapons designed to kill as many people as possible, putting our kids and police officers at risk. The statement continued, “We need more common-sense reforms that protect people from gun violence, including universal background checks and preventing the resale of guns to criminals.”
46 percent of California voters agreed more closely that “California has the strictest gun laws on the books in the nation and now some are calling for even more gun control.” It continued that rather than targeting the Second Amendment and law-abiding citizens, we should enforce the gun laws already on the books and also focus on the underlying causes of violent acts, such as mental illness and violence in the media.
Asked their impression of the National Rifle Association, 46 percent of California residents said they had an unfavorable opinion of the organization; 41 percent said favorable. Asked their impression of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 47 percent said they had a favorable opinion, and 24 percent said unfavorable.