Americans tend to trust the 'average American' with a firearm

May 27, 2015, 7:04 PM UTC

Americans are split on whether or not people should be allowed to carry firearms in public, but they tend to trust each other with guns

Last week the Texas House and Senate passed a law which would authorize licensed gun owners to openly carry handguns. Currently, in Texas, open carry rights are limited to long guns and handguns must be concealed. The law has proven highly controversial in Texas in light of widespread police opposition to the move, as well as an amendment to the law which would make it illegal for the police to stop someone just because they are 'open carrying'. This would largely prevent police from checking to see if guns are being carried by licensed firearm owners. 

When it comes to carrying weapons in public, YouGov's latest research shows that people narrowly tend to say that people should not be allowed to carry firearms in public places (45%), though 41% of Americans do think that people should be allowed to carry firearms in public. There is a very significant regional divide on the issue, as people in the Northeast oppose allowing people to carry firearms by a large margin (58% to 26%) and only in the Midwest does support for allowing people to carry firearms reach 50%. 

Most Americans (52%) say that they would feel 'very' or 'somewhat' comfortable if they saw someone carrying a handgun in a holster in public, though 43% would be uncomfortable to some degree. Most Americans (58%) would be uncomfortable seeing someone carry a hunting rifle in a public place, while fully 57% of Americans would be 'very uncomfortable' seeing someone carry a semi-automatic rifle. Only 20% would be comfortable if they saw someone carry a semi-automatic rifle in public. 

Asked more broadly whether the 'average American' can be trusted with a firearm, Americans tend to say that they trust their fellow citizen with a gun. 48% say average Americans can be trusted with a gun while 35% say they can't be. Half of Democrats (50%) think the average American can't be trusted with a gun, while just 32% think they can be. Among Republicans, however, 69% say an ordinary American can be trusted with a firearm and only 18% think they can't be trusted. 

There is also a regional split on this question, as people in the Northeast are the only ones to be more likely to distrust (48%) the average American with a gun than to trust (36%) him or her. In the West (48% to 36%), Midwest (50% to 33%) and South (52% to 29%) people tend to trust the ordinary American with a firearm. 

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.