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Only 28% Trust Feds to Fairly Enforce Gun Control

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Supporters of additional gun control generally consider the National Rifle Association their biggest problem, but distrust of the federal government remains a big hurdle for them to clear.

Just 28% of American Adults trust the federal government to fairly enforce gun control laws. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% don't trust the government when it comes to administering these laws. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This marks little change from the first time Rasmussen Reports asked this question in September 2013.

But just one-in-three Americans (32%) now think stricter gun control laws will decrease violent crime, down eight points from 40% in the 2013 survey. Fifteen percent (15%) say tougher anti-gun laws will increase violent crime, while 47% say they will have no impact.

The majority of voters still don't think laws regarding the ownership of guns should be the responsibility of the federal government anyway.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on January 10-11, 2016 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.

Voters remain closely divided on the need for additional gun control. Forty-five percent (45%) believe the United States needs stricter gun control laws, but 50% disagree. Most voters don't think much of the new executive orders issued by President Obama to extend federal oversight of gun sales. Fifty-eight percent (58%) say the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to gun control.

Most voters have long believed that the government needs to do a better job enforcing the gun laws already on the books.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans and 59% of those not affiliated with either major party do not trust the federal government to fairly administer gun control laws. Democrats, however, are evenly divided on the question. Most Republicans (57%) and unaffiliateds (52%) say stricter gun laws will have no effect on violent crime, but 52% of Democrats think they will reduce such crime.

Women believe more strongly than men that tougher anti-gun laws will reduce violent crime, but roughly 60% of both groups do not trust the feds to fairly administer those laws

Older Americans distrust the government more than those under 40 do but also feel more strongly than stricter gun control will have no impact on violent crime.

Among adults who believe stricter gun control will decrease violent crime, 53% trust the government to administer those laws fairly. Most Americans who think tougher laws will increase violent crime or have no impact on it don't trust the federal government.

Just 21% of all voters think it would be good for America if only government officials such as the police and military personnel were allowed to have guns. This finding is perhaps a bit surprising given that Americans have a very high opinion of both their local police and the military.

But then only 19% of voters trust the federal government to do the right thing all or most of the time. Fifty-four percent (54%) consider the federal government today a threat to individual liberty rather than a protector of their rights.  

Most Americans believe the NRA’s gun policies make this country safer, perhaps in part because they tend to think more gun control will only hurt law-abiding citizens.

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

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