Gun legislation is a polarizing topic, especially on the campaign trail, where it is a staple of attack ads on candidates from both parties. Voter attitudes about gun policy aren’t so divided as they seem, Politico reports.
A report released Wednesday by 97Percent, a bipartisan group of gun owners and non-gun owners that conducts research on gun safety policies, surveyed 1,078 gun owners nationwide to examine their perceptions of gun safety policy details.
The study found broad support among gun owners for laws that aim to keep people at high risk of violence from gaining access to guns. Gun policies and crime have been priorities for voters this midterm cycle, but most polling hasn’t focused on gun owners’ views.
The report found that three-quarters of gun owners are concerned about school shootings, and 71 percent are concerned about mass shootings. Sixty-six percent are concerned about an increase in gun-related homicides and gun crimes in cities. Over 80 percent believe people convicted of a violent crime should not be able to purchase or possess a gun.
These beliefs are held across political party lines.
“This is not as partisan an issue as it’s perceived, and this is not as controversial an issue as it is perceived,” said Michael Siegel, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who led the research. “The most important finding was that there is a wide enough area of common ground between gun owners and non-gun owners that we believe that is sufficient in order to carve out policies that would be extremely effective.”
Red flag laws, universal background checks and required permits for the purchase or possession of a gun are among those that win support from gun owners. Together, those policies have the potential to reduce firearm homicide rates by as much as 28 percent, the study says.
Respondents said they don’t believe there’s an “inherent conflict between the constitutional protection of gun rights and new laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at high risk for violence.”
A law prohibiting gun possession by those convicted of a domestic violence crime has the highest support among gun owners (78 percent). Republican gun owners support that measure at the same level. Republican respondents also supported prohibiting gun possession by people subject to a domestic violence restraining order (75 percent) and requiring background checks for concealed carry permits (71 percent).
Only one-third of gun owners support a ban on assault weapons. That support is even lower among Republican gun owners: 16 percent. Sixteen percent of Republican gun owners support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, while 29 percent of gun owners overall said they support such a measure.
Siegel said this research should signal to lawmakers that “you don’t have to go back to your state and pass 20 different laws and try to regulate every single aspect of firearms, you just have to go back and pass a few laws that fulfill the principles that both gun owners and non-gun owners have.”
“It doesn’t matter whether they’re in red states, blue states, purple states,” he continued. “We show that the majority of their constituents support, by a large majority, these small set of policies.”
A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found that 57 percent of respondents said that gun policy would play a major role in their vote. Forty-five percent say that they trust Democrats in Congress to handle gun policy, compared to 40 percent who trust Republicans more.