VCU poll: Majority of Virginians support stricter gun laws

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A new VCU poll of Virginia voters tells us that a majority favors stricter gun laws, with 57 percent backing a ban on assault weapons.

Strong majorities also favor background checks, limits on gun ownership for those with mental illness and red flag laws, according to a statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU.

“Our latest poll numbers suggest, as I have long maintained, that Virginia is a ‘must watch’ state,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. “The issue of stronger gun laws is illustrative of the need for advocates at every level, to be involved, including public safety, health, housing, and education groups to demonstrate the need for change if such exists.”

The telephone survey of 818 adults living in Virginia was conducted Dec. 2-13. It has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4.80 percentage points.

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • Virginians support stricter gun laws. A majority (53 percent) of Virginians say that gun laws should be stricter. Three-in-10 say laws are about right and only 17 percent think laws should be less strict.
  • Support for banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Fifty-seven percent of Virginians either strongly or somewhat favor banning assault-style weapons, with 47 percent saying strongly favor; and 56 percent either strongly or somewhat favor banning high-capacity magazines, with 42 percent saying strongly favor.
  • Large majorities support background checks, limits on gun ownership for those with mental illness, and red flag laws. Eighty-four percent of Virginians strongly or somewhat support laws to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns, and 83 percent support making private and gun show sales subject to background checks. About 7-in-10 respondents strongly favor each option (74 percent for background checks and 70 percent for purchases by people with mental illness). Eighty-two percent strongly or somewhat agree with red flag laws allowing removal of firearms from those who are deemed harmful to themselves or others, with 65 percent agreeing strongly. This finding is similar to the results from the July 2018 poll, when 85 percent agreed strongly or somewhat (60 percent agreeing strongly). A majority of both parties were supportive of these measures.

For the full poll results and methodology, visit oppo.vcu.edu/media/oppo/Winter2019-20Release2.pdf.

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