New Polls Show Overwhelming Support in Five Key States to Fix Gun Background Check System

Mar 02, 2011, 12:34 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Over 80% of Public – Including Over 70% of Gun Owners – in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio and Virginia Support Tougher Laws to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People

Legislation Introduced Today by Senator Chuck Schumer Would Get More Records Into Background Check System – and Require All Gun Buyers to Pass a Check Campaign and More than 250,000 Urge President and Congress to Fix Background Checks

NEW YORK, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The bipartisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced the results of state polls showing large majorities in five key states support closing loopholes in the national gun background check system that give dangerous people easy access to firearms. The polls – conducted in Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Indiana by Democratic and Republican polling firms – also show strong majority support among gun owners for tougher gun laws.

The surveys found broad support for provisions contained in the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, introduced today by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).  The legislation, modeled after a proposal offered by more than 550 mayors in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, creates stronger incentives for states to submit to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) records on individuals who are prohibited from purchasing guns.  The bill also requires federal agencies to certify that they are sharing information about prohibited purchasers and requires all gun buyers to pass a background check, with narrow exemptions.  

Full results for the polls are available here:

The poll questionnaire is available here:

"These five polls reveal more unity than division," said pollster Margie Omero, president of Momentum Analysis, which coordinated the survey team and conducted the Ohio poll. "Overwhelming numbers support a series of stricter gun laws to prevent mass shootings. Voters in these key states see clear solutions to a tragic problem."

"Every day, 34 people in the U.S. are killed with guns – as of today nearly 1,800 since the shooting in Tucson – because of serious gaps in our nation's gun background check system," said coalition co-chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The legislation Senator Schumer introduced will help keep guns out of dangerous hands, while having no effect on law-abiding citizens."

"Voters in these five states are on the same side as the 550 mayors in our bipartisan coalition," said coalition co-chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  "Mayors and registered voters agree: let's make it easier for law enforcement to share information about guns, track them, and keep them out of dangerous hands."

The polls were released as the National Drive to Fix Gun Checks campaign truck continues its two-month journey across the United States.  The campaign is holding events in cities across the country with local mayors, families of local gun violence victims and others to harness the growing momentum for reform.  The truck is led by Omar Samaha, whose sister was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.  The shooter at Virginia Tech, Seung Hui-Cho, passed a background check and was allowed to purchased guns because his mental health records were not in the system.  More than 250,000 Americans have signed petitions calling on the President and Congress to fix the gun background check system.

Support for Getting Records of Dangerous People into Background Check System and Requiring Background Checks for Every Gun Sale

More than 91 percent of the public, including gun owners in each of the five states, support requiring federal agencies to share information about suspected dangerous persons or terrorists to prevent them from buying guns. The Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner, a mentally ill drug abuser, was able to purchase his first gun because the U.S. Army never submitted information about his admitted history of drug abuse to the background check system. Later he bought a second gun that he used to kill six people and critically wound 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).

More than 82 percent of the public in each of the five states, including more than 82 percent of gun owners, support full funding to support state efforts to submit records of criminals, drug abusers and the mentally ill to the NICS database. In the aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Act to bolster state efforts to submit records for these prohibited purchasers into the background check system. Almost four years after Virginia Tech, millions of records are still missing from the system, in part because Congress only provided 5.3% of the funding necessary to get the records into the database. As a result, ten states still have not submitted any mental health records to NICS and 18 other states have submitted fewer than 100 records.

More than 83 percent of respondents, including more than 75 percent of gun owners, in each of the five states favor requiring all gun purchasers to pass a background check. Similarly, more than 82 percent of respondents in each state, including more than 77 percent of gun owners, support requiring all sellers at gun shows to run background checks for all gun sales. Under current federal law, not every gun sold goes through a background check: any prospective purchaser can avoid a check altogether by simply going to a so-called "occasional seller" who is selling guns at a gun show, in a parking lot, over the Internet or out of his or her home.

Poll Methodology

The bipartisan set of five polls surveyed 600 registered voters in each of the five states. Interviews were conducted between February 16, 2011 and February 21, 2011. The margin of error for each survey is +/-4%. The bipartisan survey project was managed by Momentum Analysis, a firm serving Democratic clients. State-specific polls were conducted by the following firms: Arizona: American Viewpoint; Colorado: Harstad Strategic Research; Indiana: Bellwether Research; Ohio: Momentum Analysis; Virginia: Hart Research. More about each firm is listed below.

About Momentum Analysis

Momentum Analysis is a Washington, DC-based polling firm serving Democratic candidates and progressive organizations.  Its clients include the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List, the National Education Association, and candidates for office from City Council to U.S. Senate.  In 2010, the firm's bipartisan work on Walmart moms defined and describes that swing voting bloc.  President Margie Omero is also a Huffington Post/ blogger.

About American Viewpoint

American Viewpoint is one of the most widely respected public opinion research and strategic message consulting firms in the United States. Founded in 1985 by Linda DiVall, the company has established a national reputation for outstanding quantitative and qualitative research in politics, corporate affairs, public policy and government relations. American Viewpoint has advised Republican campaigns and groups, including McCain-Palin '08, Bush-Cheney '04, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Johnny Isakson.  Corporate clients have included AT&T, CBS News, International Paper and Pfizer.

About Harstad Strategic Research

Harstad Strategic Research is a research firm specializing in political polling, PR research, and strategic consulting.  Based in Colorado, Harstad Research has achieved a remarkable record of winning elections -- 42 of our last 47 statewide general elections for U.S. senator, governor, and president in key Battleground states -- and offering successful and innovative strategies for positioning, messaging, and targeting. The firm's range of client experience includes elected officials including President Obama since 2002 and five sitting U.S. Senators, public interest organizations, and education and health institutions.  

About Bellwether Research

Bellwether Research & Consulting, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a center-right polling firm.  The firm conducts a mix of public affairs, corporate, and political survey research for select clients such as Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Alliance for Excellent Education, Indiana Manufacturers Association, American Clean Skies Foundation, American Cancer Society CAN, among others.  Christine Matthews is President and founder

About Hart Research

Hart Research has been one of America's leading public opinion and market research firms for nearly four decades.  The firm conducts research for numerous elected officials, major foundations, universities, corporations and leading media organizations.

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 550. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns