Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Majority of Americans support dozens of policies to strengthen U.S. gun laws

Date:
January 28, 2013
Source:
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Summary:
The majority of Americans support a broad array of policies to reduce gun violence, according to a new national public opinion survey.

The majority of Americans support a broad array of policies to reduce gun violence, according to a new national public opinion survey.
Credit: Stephanie Frey / Fotolia

The majority of Americans support a broad array of policies to reduce gun violence, according to a new national public opinion survey conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. These policies include: requiring universal background checks for all gun sales (supported by 89 percent); banning the sale of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons (69 percent); banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines (68 percent); and prohibiting high-risk individuals from having guns, including those convicted of a serious crime as a juvenile (83 percent) and those convicted of violating a domestic-violence restraining order (81 percent). Americans also support a range of measures to strengthen oversight of gun dealers and various policies restricting gun access by persons with mental illness.

Related Articles


The national survey, which over-sampled gun owners and non-gun owners living in homes with guns to allow for more precise estimates of opinions among these groups, was fielded in January, 2013, several weeks following the mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The majority of Americans support all but 4 of the 31 gun policies asked about in the survey. For many policies, there was little difference in support between gun owners and non-gun-owners.

"This research indicates high support among Americans, including gun owners in many cases, for a wide range of policies aimed at reducing gun violence," said lead study author Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "These data indicate broad consensus among the American public in support of a comprehensive approach to reducing the staggering toll of gun violence in the United States."

At the same time, the researchers fielded a second national survey to assess Americans' attitudes about mental illness. This survey reveals ambivalent attitudes among the American public about mental illness. Sixty-one percent of respondents favor greater spending on mental health screening and treatment as a strategy for reducing gun violence, and 58 percent said discrimination against people with mental illness is a serious problem. Yet, almost half of respondents thought people with serious mental illness are more dangerous than others, and two-thirds expressed unwillingness to have a person with a serious mental illness as a neighbor.

"In light of our findings about Americans' attitudes toward persons with mental illness, it is worth thinking carefully about how to implement effective gun-violence-prevention measures without exacerbating stigma or discouraging people from seeking treatment," added Barry.

The results of both surveys are summarized in "After Newtown -- Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness," published online on January 28th in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Gun violence claims 31,000 U.S. lives each year in the U.S., and the rate of firearms homicides in America is 20 times higher than it is in other economically advanced nations.

Johns Hopkins researchers conducted this study using the survey research firm GfK Knowledge Networks. There were 2,703 respondents in the gun policy survey and 1,530 respondents in the mental illness survey.

"Not only are gun owners and non-gun-owners very much aligned in their support for proposals to strengthen U.S. gun laws," said co-author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, "but the majority of NRA members are also in favor of many of these policies."

The survey found that 74 percent of NRA members support requiring universal background checks for all gun sales; 64 percent of NRA members support prohibiting people who have been convicted of two or more crimes involving alcohol or drugs within a 3-year period from having a gun, and 70 percent of NRA members want a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison for a person convicted of knowingly selling a gun to someone who is not legally allowed to own one.

"These data indicate that the majority of Americans are in favor of policy changes that would ultimately increase safety," said Jon Vernick, JD, MPH, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and a co-author of the study. "This consensus should propel forward comprehensive legislation aimed at saving lives."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Colleen L. Barry, Emma E. McGinty, Jon S. Vernick, Daniel W. Webster. After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013; 130128101537007 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1300512

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Majority of Americans support dozens of policies to strengthen U.S. gun laws." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128133904.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2013, January 28). Majority of Americans support dozens of policies to strengthen U.S. gun laws. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128133904.htm
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Majority of Americans support dozens of policies to strengthen U.S. gun laws." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128133904.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins