Updated March 26, 2023
In the wake of recent mass shootings and partisan disagreement in Washington, D.C. about causes and prevention, it's easy to view gun control and gun rights as a very divisive issue. But there are plenty of viewpoints on guns and gun laws where Americans agree, regardless of their politics.
Major pollsters have found sharp disagreement in the U.S. on whether gun laws should be made more or less strict in general. But on subjects such as allowing handgun ownership, conducting background checks for gun sales and increasing focus on mental health, large majorities of the U.S. public see eye-to-eye.
Here are a few examples of data and stories to support that:
- 2021 data from Pew Research Center (Center bias) found that majorities in both partisan coalitions favor preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns (85% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats support this) and subjecting private gun sales and gun show sales to background checks (70% of Republicans and 92% of Democrats).
- 2021 data from Gallup (Center bias) found that majorities of Democrats (60%), independents (86%) and Republicans (94%) don't support a ban on handguns.
- 2019 data from a joint PBS/NPR/Marist College poll found that majorities of Americans support more funding for mental health (89%) and creating a national "red flag" law allowing authorities to confiscate guns from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others (72%).
- 2019 data from a joint NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found that 75% of Americans supported a voluntary program in which the government would buy back firearms that people no longer want.
- 2018 data from Pew suggests that 84% of Americans support barring gun purchases by people on federal no-fly watch lists, including 86% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans.
- 2017 data from a joint NPR/Ipsos poll found that 82% of Americans supported banning bump stocks, which are attachments that equip semi-automatic firearms to use recoil to fire ammunition cartridges in rapid succession. The Justice Department banned bump stocks at the federal level in December 2018.
Partisan and biased news coverage often makes issues like gun control seem more divisive than they are. But survey data can tell a more complete story of how average Americans actually view these issues.
See more examples of common ground on issues where you might not expect to find it:
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