Despite potential overall support for moderate gun-control measures, just 25% of gun owners trust the federal government to look out for their best interests, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll.
Among gun owners overall, a slim majority think passing new gun-control legislation is a slippery slope toward taking away all guns. About three-quarters of Republicans and nearly half of independents thought so, according to the survey.
A full 60% of Republican gun owners think the government wants to confiscate all guns, and 55% of them said new gun control measures violate their Second Amendment rights.
The poll found that, overall, 61% believe mass shootings won’t be stopped by new gun laws, including almost 80% of Republicans and 56% of independents.
More than 8 in 10 gun owners said they support universal background checks for all gun sales, including those made at gun shows and private sales.
Most — 72% — were in favor of raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21, but 67% were in favor of raising the age to purchase any type of gun to 21. And 65% were in favor of red flag laws, according to the survey.
Congress recently took its first action on guns in nearly 30 years, passing a sweeping bill with bipartisan support that expanded background checks on people between the ages of 18 and 21, offered financial incentives for states to pass red flag laws, and eliminated the so-called "boyfriend loophole," which built on a law that prevented spouses convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun.
"This NPR/Ipsos survey of American gun owners shows that the majority of gun owners are supportive of moderate gun control measures like background checks or increased age requirements, but harbor deep distrust of government suggesting the barriers that exist to more actions on guns," Chris Jackson, senior vice president with Ipsos, told NPR.
When it comes to semi-automatic weapons, there is less support for an outright ban among gun owners compared to other gun-control measures, with 55% opposed to such a ban.
Broken down by political party, 72% of Republican gun owners and 53% of independents opposed such a ban, while 84% of Democrats were in favor.
Roughly 1 in 5 gun owners reported owning an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, including 25% of Republicans. When asked if “people like me” need to own these types of weapons, 45% of gun owners said no and 35% said yes. Again, though, there was a wide partisan split. Three-quarters of Democrat gun owners said no, while almost half of independents and a third of Republicans said no.
The most common reasons for owning guns were for personal protection (79%), for family protection (78%), and for sport shooting (54%).
The poll was conducted June 15-21, before the mass shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park but after those in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas. It surveyed 1,022 adults who reported owning at least one gun.
Among those interviewed, there were 445 Republicans, 389 independents, and 183 Democrats, and five people declined to answer. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
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