• Polling

Two in Three Americans Believe the United States Needs Stronger Gun Laws

Friday, April 14, 2023 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • Nearly one in three Americans now say the issue of guns should be a top priority for Congress – behind only inflation and the economy – as majorities say gun violence and mass shootings are “crises.”
  • More than three in five say gun laws should be stronger, as overwhelming majorities support a range of gun violence prevention reforms.
  • Messaging emphasizing the magnitude of the gun violence crisis is most compelling against a pro-2 nd Amendment argument, and Americans express the most concerns about Republican inaction and obstruction on the issue.

In the Wake of Recent Mass Shootings, a Growing Share of Americans View Guns As a Priority for Congress to Focus On

The share who rate guns as a top four issue increased by 9 points since late March (from 23% to 32%); only inflation (52%) and jobs and the economy (44%) rate higher. Among those who want stronger gun laws, guns are a more salient issue: 45% say it is a top four issue, compared to just 10% among those who do not want stronger gun laws.

Gun Violence and Mass Shootings Are Seen As Major Crises in the United States

Since mid-February, the share who say gun violence in the U.S. is “a crisis” or “a major issue” has increased by 8 points (from 66% to 74%), while the share who say the same of mass shootings has also slightly increased from last September (from 77% to 80%).

Americans Don’t Think Gun Laws Are Strong Enough Nor That Washington Has Done Enough

Majorities of Democrats (88%) and independents (55%) say gun laws in the U.S. should be stronger, along with nearly two in five Republicans (38%) and half of those in gun-owning households (48%); two in three Americans (67%) also say that leaders in D.C. “have not done enough” to prevent gun violence, including nearly half of Republicans (48%) and 55% of those in gun-owning households.

Bipartisan Coalitions and Those in Gun-Owning Households Support a Range of Gun Violence Prevention Reforms

Requiring background checks on all gun sales (net +80 support), combating gun trafficking and the spread of illegal guns (net +79), and blocking domestic abusers from owning guns (net +78) are the most popular gun reforms tested. • Two in three Americans (67%) also support banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, including a majority of those in gun-owning households (51% support) and a plurality of Republicans (48%).

Biden and Democrats Are More Trusted on Issues Related to Gun Violence Prevention, Though Less So on Reducing Crime

Independents trust Biden and the Democratic Party much more than the Republican Party on “strengthening gun laws” (net +18 Biden and Democrats), and also trust Democrats more on “preventing gun violence” (net +6), “protecting children from gun violence” (net +7), and “reducing the number of mass shootings” (net +7).

  • Republicans hold an advantage on “reducing violent crime” (net -6 Democrats overall, net -16 Democrats among independents).

Emphasizing the Magnitude of the Gun Violence Crisis in the U.S. Is the Strongest Message Tested

A message that “we need stronger gun laws in this country because there have already been 125 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first three months of 2023 [and] over 10,000 gun deaths” is most effective (net +18 agree more) against a message that “we cannot let our government take guns away from law-abiding citizens [and] overturn the 2nd Amendment.”

GOP Obstructionism/Inaction Most Concerning on Gun Violence

Messaging focused on Republicans trying to ban books instead of making sure parents can send their children to school without fear of them being killed in their classrooms also performs strongly among independents (68% concerned) and gun-owning households (50%).

Those in Gun-Owning Households Lean Republican, Conservative, Tend to Be Parents, Younger; But More Pro-Choice Than Not

The 37% who live in gun-owning households tend to identify as Republicans (61%) and conservatives (47%). Demographically, they are more likely to be parents (36%) and 18-44 years old (48%) than Americans overall. Roughly half (48%) identify as pro-choice.


About The Study

Global Strategy Group conducted public opinion surveys among a sample of 1,003 registered voters from April 6-April 10, 2023. 100 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters. 75 additional interviews were conducted among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. 100 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters. 101 additional interviews were conducted among independent voters.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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