After Parkland, Number of Americans Who Want Gun Restrictions Grows : NPR

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Vince Warner fires an AK-47 with a bump stock installed at Good Guys Gun and Range in Utah. A significant majority of Americans favor outlawing the attachment, according to the latest NPR/Ipsos poll.

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Vince Warner fires an AK-47 with a bump stock installed at Good Guys Gun and Range in Utah. A significant majority of Americans favor outlawing the attachment, according to the latest NPR/Ipsos poll.

George Frey/Getty Images

An increasing number of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, want more gun regulation, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll that surveyed people in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.

Three-quarters of people polled said gun laws should be stricter than they are today. That’s an increase — in a short period of time — from October 2017, when NPR conducted a similar survey in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. Then, 68 percent said gun laws should be stricter than they were.


The poll also found widespread bipartisan support for a range of gun-control policies, including:

  • requiring background checks for all gun buyers (94 percent),
  • adding people with mental illnesses to the federal gun background check system (92 percent),
  • raising the legal age to purchase guns from 18 to 21 (82 percent),
  • banning bump stocks (81 percent),
  • banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds (73 percent) and
  • banning assault-style weapons (72 percent).

The only policy intended to curb gun violence that is opposed by a majority of Americans (59 percent) is the one most frequently touted by President Trump — the idea of training teachers to carry guns in schools.


The poll also found that while nearly every gun policy was supported by a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, the one exception was arming teachers.

There was a clear-cut partisan gulf — 68 percent of Republicans favored the idea of training teachers to carry guns compared to just 18 percent of Democrats. Arming teachers was by far the most polarizing policy suggestion; the poll found a 50-point divide between Republicans and Democrats.


Trump’s in sync with his base

The president’s outspoken criticism of schools as gun-free zones and his recent rhetoric calling for a comprehensive gun bill suggests he’s acutely aware of how his base voters feel about gun policies — and the growing desire, even among Republicans, for some sort of stricter gun-control legislation.

“We see in this study, a majority of Republicans saying that they are supportive of a variety of different gun-control measures, many of which Trump mentioned explicitly in his [White House] briefing,” said Chris Jackson, director of the public polling team at Ipsos. “And that’s in contrast to a lot of Republican elected officials, who have taken a much more Second Amendment absolutist stance.”

Although Trump remains friendly with the National Rifle Association and its leadership, he’s recently shown a willingness to challenge GOP orthodoxy on guns.


In a televised White House meeting with legislators Wednesday, Trump surprised (and angered) many of his fellow conservative lawmakers with his ad-hoc approach to gun-control policy. He questioned his fellow Republicans’ relationship with the NRA and dismissed a concealed carry provision that conservatives wanted as a trade-off for some restrictions.

“They have great power over you people. They have less power over me,” Trump told GOP lawmakers at that meeting, adding, “Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified.”


Trump suggested he was open to expanding background checks and possibly raising the age to purchase an AR-15. (Both popular measures, according to the NPR/Ipsos poll).

“President Trump is actually closer to where the Republican base is on the issue of guns than a lot of Republican elected officials,” Jackson said. “And I think this is something that Trump has done a lot through his political career; he often times finds himself closer to the Republican base than the establishment does.”

Of course, the president has a history of adopting popular opinions and speaking to the polls, and then subsequently reversing his position and reverting to a more traditionally conservative attitude, as he did with his initial support for a bill that would protect DACA recipients from deportation.

Americans want Congress to act

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