Common Dreams NewsCenter

 

 Home | NewswireAbout Us | Donate | Sign-Up | Archives

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
Home > Progressive Community > NewsWire > For Immediate Release     

 

 
Send this page to a friend
   
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 12, 2001
10:39 AM
CONTACT:  The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
Blaine Rummel 202-408-7560 x118
New Poll Finds American Voters Overwhelmingly Support Handgun Licensing And Registration, Criminal Background Checks
 
WASHINGTON - June 12 - A comprehensive nationwide survey released today found that more than 80 percent of registered voters support licensing handgun owners and registering handguns, and fully 92 percent favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchases -- a critical component of a strong licensing system. The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by the respected polling firm Lake, Snell, Perry, and Associates May 15-21, 2001 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 percent.

Also reported in this poll were attitudes of National Rifle Association (NRA) supporters toward specific new gun law proposals. The poll found that three quarters of NRA supporters favor measures such as licensing and registration.

"Americans overwhelmingly support common sense policies like licensing and registration and universal criminal background checks to stop the transfer of handguns to criminals and youth," said Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the nonprofit educational charity that commissioned the poll. "Congress is currently considering legislation to close the gun show loophole by conducting criminal background checks at gun shows. Our poll indicates that the public wants all loopholes closed through a system of licensing and registration - a system that would mandate criminal background checks on all sales."

Key Findings

Key findings from the poll included:

-- 85 percent of registered voters -- and 73 percent of gun owners -- favor requiring prospective gun owners to obtain a license before buying a handgun.

-- 83 percent of the registered voters -- and 72 percent of gun owners -- favor requiring gun owners to register their newly purchased handguns.

-- 92 percent of the registered voters -- and 86 percent of gun owners -- favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchases, a key component of a licensing and registration system. (Asked of a split sample of 500 respondents.)

The new poll found slightly higher public support for licensing and registration than other, recent national gun policy polls. A Gallup Poll conducted in October 2000, for example, found that 72 percent of Americans favored both licensing and registration for new handgun purchases.

NRA Supporters Also Support New Gun Laws

The poll also examined the attitudes of citizens who said they supported the National Rifle Association, who made up 35.2 percent of the sample. The results appear to contradict the rhetoric of that organization's leadership:

-- 66 percent of NRA supporters favor handgun owner licensing.

-- 65 percent of NRA supporters favor handgun registration.

-- 82 percent of NRA supporters favor universal background checks for all handgun purchases. (Asked of a split sample of 352 NRA supporters.)

"This poll shows that common sense measures like licensing and registration are universally popular - even among those who support the National Rifle Association," said Horwitz. "This historic poll confirms what we've always known: the NRA is woefully out of touch not only with voters, but with its traditional supporters as well."

Most Think Licensing and Registration Already Exist

Surprisingly, 70 percent of registered voters mistakenly believe that a system of licensing and registration already exists. However, only five states -- New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Hawaii -- require some form of licensing and registration of handguns or its equivalent.

"Perhaps people believe the NRA leadership's 'enforce existing laws' slogan because they think tough laws like licensing and registration already exist," said Horwitz. "But the reality is that handgun licensing and registration laws -- laws that could significantly dry up the pool of guns falling into criminal hands -- do not exist in our country."

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif. and Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) have introduced legislation in the current Congress to create a nationwide licensing and registration system.

At the state level, two strong handgun licensing bills are successfully making their way through the California state legislature. Licensing bills have also been introduced in the Indiana and Florida state legislatures.

About Licensing and Registration

Licensing is designed to ensure that every handgun buyer - not just those who buy guns at a gun store - undergoes a criminal background check, and is trained on safe gun use. Registration promotes responsibility among handgun owners and assists law enforcement in tracking down guns that are sold or used illegally.

Licensing and registration would work a lot like the system we now use to license drivers and register automobiles.

-- Licensing would require handgun purchasers to pass a basic safety course and undergo a background check to make sure they are not underage, a violent criminal or mentally ill.

-- Registration would make the legal owner of a gun responsible for its safe use and transfer to another owner, dramatically reducing the flow of guns from the legal to criminal market.

Registration would also help police track weapons that are passed on to another person in a criminal or negligent way, including "straw" purchases where a legal buyer purchases guns on behalf of someone prohibited from owning them.

About the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence was founded in 1978 as a nonprofit educational charity dedicated to ending firearm violence, particularly as it affects children. Our mission is to stop gun violence by fostering effective community and national action.

For a copy of the poll, please contact Blaine Rummel at 202-408-7560 ext. 118. The poll is a project funded by the Funders' Collaborative for Gun Violence Prevention. More information about the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence can be found at www.efsgv.org.

FACT SHEET: LICENSING AND REGISTRATION NATIONAL POLL EDUCATIONAL FUND TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE

National survey of 1000 registered voters conducted May 15-21, 2001. Margin of error plus-or-minus 3.1 percent.

General Findings

-- 54 percent think current gun control laws are not strict enough, 29 percent think they are about right, and 12 percent think they are too strict.

-- 59 percent favor passing stricter national gun control laws.

Support for Licensing, Registration, and Background Checks Among Registered Voters

-- 85 percent of registered voters favor requiring a license before a handgun is purchased.

-- 83 percent of registered voters favor registration of all new handguns purchased.

-- 92 percent of registered voters favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchases. (Asked of a split sample of 500 respondents.)

Support for Licensing, Registration, and Background Checks Among Gun Owners

-- 73 percent of gun owners favor requiring a license before a handgun is purchased.

-- 72 percent of gun owners favor requiring gun owners to register their newly-purchased weapons.

-- 86 percent of gun owners favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchases. (Asked of a split sample of 500 respondents.)

Support for Licensing, Registration, and Background Checks Among NRA Supporters

-- 66 percent of self-described NRA supporters favor handgun owner licensing

-- 65 percent of self-described NRA supporters favor handgun registration

-- 82 percent of self-described NRA supporters favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchases. (Asked of a split sample of 352 NRA supporters.)

For a copy of the poll, please contact Blaine Rummel at 202-408-7560 ext. 118.

###

 
Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
Read our Guidelines for Submitting News Releases

Tell Us What You Think: editor@commondreams.org

Copyright 1997-2003 Common Dreams.
www.commondreams.org