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Americans Aren’t Convinced Stricter Gun Control Laws Will Decrease Violent Crime

Thursday, February 22, 2018

In the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, officials and activists are calling for tighter gun control laws. But Americans aren’t convinced stricter gun laws will reduce crime and don’t trust the government to enforce those laws.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 15% of American Adults say stricter gun control laws increase violent crime, while 39% think stricter laws would decrease violent crime. Another 39% believe beefing up the country’s gun control laws would have no impact on violent crime. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings are in line with previous surveys.

Only 24% of Americans trust the government to fairly enforce gun control laws. Fifty-eight percent (58%) lack trust in the government’s ability to enforce those laws, while 18% are not sure.

These findings, too, are little changed from past surveys.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on February 19-20, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Following last week's school shooting in Florida, Americans rate more gun control on the same level with treatment of the mentally ill as the best way to stop incidents of this kind. They also are a lot more concerned about how safe schools are.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Democrats think stricter gun control laws will decrease violent crime, a view shared by only 22% of Republicans and 35% of adults not affiliated with either political party. A majority (59%) of Republicans feel tighter gun control laws will have no impact on violent crime, but only 26% of Democrats and 37% of unaffiliated Americans agree.

Still, a majority of Republicans (56%), Democrats (61%) and unaffiliated adults (55%) don’t trust the government to fairly enforce gun control laws.

Nearly half (49%) who have a gun in their household say that more gun control laws will have no impact on violent crime. Fifty-four percent (54%) of those who are not gun owners say more laws will decrease violent crime.

Among adults who trust the government to fairly enforce gun control laws, 52% think stricter gun laws will decrease violent crime. Adults who lack trust in the government to enforce gun laws are more evenly divided.

Support for more gun control has ranged from 40% to 56% in surveys since June 2008  and not surprisingly spikes after national tragedies like the Newtown shootings and the massacre last October in Las Vegas.

Sixty-six percent (66%) think the United States needs stricter enforcement of existing gun control laws.

Just 15% of voters believe most politicians raise gun-related issues to address real problems, while most (74%) think politicians publicize their views on these issues to get elected.

The shooter in the Florida incident used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Most voters think there should be a ban on the purchase of semi-automatic and assault-type weapons such as the AR-15.

Fifty-one percent (51%) think it’s too easy to buy a gun in the United States.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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