Wider control on guns has support in U.S.

Survey for Hopkins finds backing even by owners

May 06, 1999|By SUN STAFF REPORT

A nationwide survey for the Johns Hopkins University has found strong public support -- including that of many gun owners -- for more gun control. Substantial backing was found for legislation to regulate firearms, make guns safer and reduce access to weapons by criminals and children.

The survey was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in collaboration with the Hopkins Center for Gun Policy. It surveyed 1,200 U.S. adults by telephone and had a margin of error of three percentage points.

The findings of the study, which is being distributed to legislators and policy-makers, include:

Three-fourths of gun owners support mandatory registration of handguns, as does 85 percent of the public. Some 60 percent of Americans want licenses to carry concealed weapons issued only to people with special needs, such as private detectives.

Government regulation of gun design to improve safety is supported by 63 percent of gun owners and 75 percent of the general public.

Two-thirds of gun owners and 80 percent of the general public favor mandatory background checks in private handgun sales, such as gun shows.

Many are willing to pay higher taxes for measures to reduce gun thefts and root out illegal gun dealers. They are also willing to pay higher prices for safer guns.

The survey is the third by the National Opinion Research Center dedicated to citizens' attitudes about gun policies. All three, according to Tom Smith, a NORC official, have shown that the public wants firearms tightly regulated.

The data used in the study were collected last fall, before the school shooting in Littleton, Colo., but after similar shootings in Arkansas, Kentucky and Oregon.

Said Stephen Teret, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research: "While the gun lobby pushes [for] looser concealed [weapon] laws, the public worries about its personal safety."

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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