Over seven in ten Americans (73 percent) – including two-thirds of Republicans (68 percent) and three-fourths of Democrats and Independents (75 percent each) – believe Americans should be allowed to purchase and/or own firearms – with some restrictions, according to a new Harris Poll.
The poll found that only 16 percent believe Americans should be allowed to own a firearm without limitation, including a quarter (24 percent) of Republicans, about one in ten Democrats (9 percent), and 16 percent of Independents. And roughly one in ten (9 percent) believe Americans should not be allowed to purchase and/or own firearms, including 7 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Independents.
The Harris Poll of 2,252 adults surveyed occurred online between December 9 and 14 after the San Bernardino terror attack that took place on December 2 and led to 14 deaths, as well as November’s Paris attacks, which left 130 dead. The interviews came prior to President Obama’s recent series of executive actions on firearms.
Regardless, the survey found demands for stricter gun control continue to be on the decline overall. A 49 percent plurality of Americans favors stricter gun control, with 22 percent favor less strict gun control and 21 percent say it should neither be tightened nor loosened. Sixty-nine percent supported stricter gun control in 1998, ebbing gradually to 45 percent in 2010. 2014 saw the first growth on record, to 51 percent, but the most recent data’s slight drop to 49 percent indicate that this may have been only a temporary change in trajectory.
By party, 74 percent of Democrats favor stricter gun control and 47 percent of Independents agree, but only 26 percent of Republicans.
Regarding manufacturer’s liability, fewer than four in ten (38 percent) agree that manufacturers should hold some degree of responsibility when their products are used to commit a crime. Along party lines, a majority of Democrats (56 percent) agree that manufacturers should be at least partly responsible, while three in ten Independents (31 percent) and a quarter of Republicans (25 percent) feel this way.
Other findings from the poll:
- Vast majorities support background checks for all firearm (90 percent) and ammunition (77 percent) sales – including those conducted online or at gun shows. More specifically, nearly seven in ten strongly support such checks for firearm sales (69 percent) while nearly six in ten say the same for ammunition sales (58 percent);
- Seven in ten (71 percent) support establishing a national registry of firearm owners; half (50 percent) strongly support such an initiative.
- Roughly two-thirds support outlawing fully automatic firearms (66 percent) and limiting magazine sizes (also 66 percent);
- A slimmer majority (55 percent) – though a majority nonetheless – support limiting the number of firearms an individual can own (34 percent strongly so).
With the exception of limiting the number of firearms an individual can own, majorities across party, generation and gender lines agree with all these measures; the same is true among those with at least one firearm in their home.