Trump’s words on guns sync with the public’s views

March 08, 2018, 6:00 PM GMT+0

Nearly two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum age for buying guns to 21

Last week, President Trump have articulated a series of gun control options that many Americans – including most gun owners – can agree on. But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds the gun debate after the recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida taking two paths, with a public in favor controlling gun sales and but skeptical about providing more security in schools by arming teachers.

Americans support the President’s suggestion that mentally troubled people who might pose a danger have any firearms taken from them by their family or by police, something gun owners also overwhelmingly support. While this proposal raises Constitutional questions about due process (which the President felt were secondary in importance to the removal of guns in certain circumstances), most of the public seems happy with the option, with Republicans and Democrats in agreement.

Additionally, there is little opposition to raising the minimum age for gun purchases: two in three support that, including most gun owners. 65% of Republicans are also in agreement.

The President also supported banning “bump stocks,” which can make semi-automatic weapons behave as if there were fully automatic, and indicated he could support more stringent background checks. Both those measures have had significant public support, including from gun owners, in previous Economist/YouGov Polls. Just about one in five Americans say they personally own a gun. More than half the respondents in the poll said no one in their household own a gun.

Arming teachers, another proposal, is favored by gun owners (and Republicans), but not by the public overall. More find it unreasonable to give teachers the option of being armed.

This week, a majority (57%) continues to support stricter gun laws in general. That is down four points from a week ago, when the poll registered its highest support ever for more gun control. However, the gender gap among Republicans (noted last week) remains: 53% of Republican women but only 29% of GOP men favor stricter gun control laws this week. 42% of Republicans overall support making gun laws more strict, as do 39% of gun owners.

This week, several companies took steps to limit gun purchases – most notably, by raising the age at which guns can be bought. Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods both made this change. The companies’ decisions get support from across the political spectrum, and two in three gun owners agree.

Both Dick’s and Walmart get positive assessments from the public. Two in three have a favorable impression of Walmart (so do 68% of gun owners); a majority overall (and half of gun owners) give Dick’s Sporting Goods a favorable evaluation. Dick’s is less well-known than Walmart, however.

But company moves to dissociate themselves from the National Rifle Association may not be as popular. Americans continue to divide in how they view the NRA. This week 72% of Republicans are favorable and 69% of Democrats are not. Two-thirds of gun owners have a positive view of the NRA.

So companies that take actions against the organization face scrutiny. Gun owners divide in their opinion of Delta Airlines, which just ended a discount program for NRA members traveling to the organization’s convention. Overall, 46% of the public is favorable towards Delta, 30% are not.

The airline’s ending its discount program for NRA members gets only narrow public support, and is opposed by gun owners and Republicans. The Georgia state legislature’s removal of a sizable tax exemption for Delta (based in Atlanta) because of its corporate decision to stop the discount program is opposed, but gun owners disagree.

Read the latest topline and table results here

Photo: Getty