45% Believe Gun-Buyers Should First Have to Explain to the Government Why They Need a Gun

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters nationwide say potential gun buyers should have to explain to the government why they need a gun and be required to get government permission to do so. A ScottRasmussen.com national survey found that 55% disagree.

The number who believe permission should be required includes 12% who think almost anyone should still be able to get a gun permit through a process something like getting a driver’s license. However, 33% believe that only people who can prove they need a gun should be able to buy one. 

Most of the 45% who favor requiring government permission to buy a gun do not believe the federal government should be the body making that decision. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of those Americans believe the state or local government should grant gun purchasing rights, compared to 43% who say the decision should rest with the federal government.

The survey was conducted close to the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Data released yesterday showed that 92% of voters favor modest restrictions on gun purchases such as background checks and waiting periods. However, only 38% believe those restrictions would significantly reduce the number of gun deaths in the country.

Younger voters are more likely than older Americans to favor stricter rules on gun ownership. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of respondents aged 18 to 34 believe potential gun buyers must show a need to buy a firearm and get government permission to do so. That is the only age group where a majority favors those restrictions. Americans aged 35 to 49 are equally split at 50% on that idea, 39% of voters aged 50 to 64 support it, and 33% of voters aged 65 and older back those added restrictions (see crosstab results).

Among the 45% who believe permission should be required, 93%believe someone convicted of a violent crime should be denied the right to purchase a gun. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of that group feels the same way about people convicted of domestic abuse. Eighty-eight percent (88%) oppose allowing someone taking medication for mental illness to be able to buy a gun.

However, 73% of those who believe permission should be required think someone who has served in the military should be granted permission to buy a gun. Half (51%) say the same about an unemployed American.

Other data from the survey found that 72% of all voters are opposed to the idea of the government banning all private gun ownership so that only police, the military, and government officials are allowed to carry guns. Similarly, 59% of Americans say they feel safer living in a community where people are allowed to own guns.

Forty-one percent (41%) of voters believe that gang violence is the leading cause of gun deaths in America. Twenty-seven percent (27%) believe it is mass shootings. Only 11% realize that most of the gun deaths in the United States result from suicides.

All data presented by ScottRasmussen.com is to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us). Each day we update the president’s job approval rating and post new data relating to topics in the news. Receive the latest insights each day by signing up for Scott Rasmussen’s Morning Update.

The national survey of 999 registered voters conducted December 12-13, 2018 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).

Posted in Poll Results

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