Who wants handguns banned?

 

 

While national surveys on public attitudes toward firearms and firearms regulation are common, rarely do surveys look at respondents across the nation by region or state.

This summary offers key findings on the nine census regions1 and four of the most populated states2 from a study conducted by Tom W. Smith and Luis Martos at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The study, Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Guns: A State-Level Perspective is a new, first-time regional and state analysis of information gathered by NORC utilizing three resources:

the annual National Gun Policy Survey (NGPS) for the years 1996, 1997, and 1998, which is conducted by NORC; the annual General Social Survey, which has been conducted by NORC since 1972; and the archives of the National Network of State Polls. Information contained in this summary has been pooled together from the National Gun Policy Survey for the years 1996, 1997, and 1998. The NGPS is the most comprehensive annual survey on national gun attitudes conducted in the United States. Data from the three years were calculated by NORC to obtain these new regional and state numbers.

Handgun Ban

While only 25 percent of Americans own a handgun, 37 percent of Americans favor "a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons." A majority (51 percent) of Middle Atlantic residents favor a handgun ban. Nearly 47 percent of New England residents favor a handgun ban, as do 40 percent of East North Central residents. Nearly six out of 10 New Yorkers (59 percent) favor a handgun ban. For many regions, more residents favor a handgun ban than own handguns.

Federal Safety Regulation of the Gun Industry

Currently, the firearms industry is the only manufacturer of a consumer product that is specifically exempt from federal safety regulation. The survey found that federal safety regulation of the gun industry is favored by nearly 73 percent of the American public. Federal safety regulation of the firearms industry is favored by more than 70 percent of the residents in the following regions: New England, Middle Atlantic, West North Central, South Atlantic, West South Central, and Pacific. In the remaining regions, federal safety regulation is supported by at least 67 percent of residents. In each state more than 70 percent of residents supported federal safety regulation of the industry.

Concealed Carry

Less than 40 percent of Americans feel safer with a concealed weapons law. The only region of the country where a majority of residents feel safer as the result of a concealed weapons law is the East South Central. In none of the four states do the majority of residents feel safer with a concealed weapons law. A majority in every region—except for the East South Central region and West South Central region and Texas—want concealed carry licenses restricted.

Information for the United States and the Nine Census Regions

This section contains selected information on the public's attitudes towards guns for the United States and the nine census regions from Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Guns: A State-Level Perspective. The nine census regions are:

  • New England: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont 

  • Middle Atlantic: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania 

  • East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin 

  • West North Central: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota 

  • South Atlantic: District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

  • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee 

  • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas 

  • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming 

  • Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington


Percent Who Want a Law Banning the Possession of Handguns3

United States 36.6
New England 46.5
Middle Atlantic 51.0
East North Central 40.2
West North Central 28.9
South Atlantic 35.3
East South Central 27.1
West South Central 29.3
Mountain 28.9
Pacific 33.9



Gun Ownership by Type4 Compared to Support for a Handgun Ban5

Region Handgun Only Both Handgun and Long Gun Total Handgun Ownership Support for Handgun Ban
United States 6.1 18.7 24.8 36.6
New England 3.8 12.7 16.5 46.5
Middle Atlantic 3.5 11.3 14.8 51.0
East North Central 4.3 15.8 20.1 40.2
West North Central 3.4 18.0 21.4 28.9
South Atlantic 7.6 20.4 28.0 35.3
East South Central 11.6 28.4 40.0 27.1
West South Central 7.1 26.4 33.5 29.3
Mountain 6.7 26.5 33.2 28.9
Pacific 7.2 16.4 23.6 33.9



Percent Who Have a Gun in Household6

United States 39.6
New England 32.6
Middle Atlantic 25.5
East North Central 37.4
West North Central 47.7
South Atlantic 38.3
East South Central 60.8
West South Central 51.1
Mountain 48.8
Pacific 33.5


Percent Who Say Guns Make Homes Less Safe7

United States 45.1
New England 64.4
Middle Atlantic 53.4
East North Central 46.6
West North Central 41.8
South Atlantic 39.7
East South Central 24.9
West South Central 37.1
Mountain 40.9
Pacific 52.6

 

Percent Who Favor Federal Safety Regulations for Gun Design8

United States 72.5
New England 71.2
Middle Atlantic 75.0
East North Central 68.5
West North Central 74.0
South Atlantic 74.5
East South Central 68.9
West South Central 76.5
Mountain 67.0
Pacific 72.5

 

Percent Who Want Concealed Carry Licenses Restricted9

United States 57.0
New England 61.8
Middle Atlantic 68.6
East North Central 62.0
West North Central 60.1
South Atlantic 54.9
East South Central 37.9
West South Central 42.2
Mountain 58.5
Pacific 57.9

 

Information for the States of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas

This section contains selected information on the public's attitudes on guns for the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas from Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Guns: A State-Level Perspective.

Percent Who Want a Law Banning the Possession of Handguns10

California
36.9
New York
58.8
Pennsylvania
36.9
Texas
31.4


Gun Ownership by Type11 Compared to Support for a Handgun Ban12

State Handgun Only Both Handgun and Long Gun Total Handgun Ownership Support for Handgun Ban
California 7.0 15.6 22.6 36.9
New York 2.7 8.2 10.9 58.8
Pennsylvania 4.2 16.3 20.5 36.9
Texas 7.3 22.3 29.6 31.4


Percent Who Have a Gun in Household13

California 31.0
New York 20.4
Pennsylvania 34.5
Texas 44.6


Percent Who Say Guns Make Homes Less Safe14

California 52.4
New York 58.8
Pennsylvania 45.4
Texas 40.5


Percent Who Favor Federal Safety Regulations for Gun Design15

California 74.3
New York 78.8
Pennsylvania 72.0
Texas 76.8


Percent Who Want Concealed Carry Licenses Restricted16

California 65.0
New York 73.1
Pennsylvania 60.2
Texas 39.7

  


  1. The nine census regions are: New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Please see page three for a listing of the states contained in each census region.

  2. The four states are California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

  3. Question wording: "Do you think there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  4. Question wording: "Do you happen to have, in your home, car, or garage, any guns? Are any of them handguns? Are any of them shotguns? Are any of them rifles?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  5. Question wording: "Do you think there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  6. Question wording: "Do you happen to have, in your home, car, or garage, any guns?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  7. Question wording: "Do you think that a gun makes a home much safer, safer, less safe, or much less safe?" Percent indicates those responding "less safe" or "much less safe." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  8. Question wording: "Would you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose government safety regulations for the design of guns?" Percent indicates those responding "strongly favor" or "favor." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  9. Question wording: "Should licenses to carry concealed firearms be issued to any adult who has passed a criminal background check and a gun safety course or only to people with a special need to carry a concealed gun such as private detectives?" Percent indicates those responding "only to people with a special need." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  10. Question wording: "Do you think there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  11. Question wording: "Do you happen to have, in your home, car, or garage, any guns? Are any of them handguns? Are any of them shotguns? Are any of them rifles?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  12. Question wording: "Do you think there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  13. Question wording: "Do you happen to have, in your home, car, or garage, any guns?" Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  14. Question wording: "Do you think that a gun makes a home much safer, safer, less safe, or much less safe?" Percent indicates those responding "less safe" or "much less safe." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  15. Question wording: "Would you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose government safety regulations for the design of guns?" Percent indicates those responding "strongly favor" or "favor." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.

  16. Question wording: "Should licenses to carry concealed firearms be issued to any adult who has passed a criminal background check and a gun safety course or only to people with a special need to carry a concealed gun such as private detectives?" Percent indicates those responding "only to people with a special need." Source: National Gun Policy Survey, 1996-1998.