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Most Californians Want More Gun Regulation

David Kordus March 1, 2016
Gun In His Hand. Exhibition And Sale Of Weapons

Following the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, we checked in on Californians’ attitudes toward gun laws and found that a solid majority (62%) say the government does not do enough to regulate access to guns. The share of Californians expressing this opinion today is close to the record high in January 2013 (65%), shortly after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Since we began asking this question in 2000, majorities have consistently said the government does not do enough.

Since 2000, the federal assault weapons ban has expired and US Supreme Court rulings have expanded Second Amendment protections for individuals. President Obama pushed for legislation to restore the assault weapons ban and expand background checks following the Newtown shooting, but these proposals failed to get through Congress. Earlier this year, the president used executive actions to increase the kinds of gun sales that are subject to background checks and to make the background check system more efficient. While one in four Californians—and a majority of California Republicans—say the president has gone too far in his actions on guns, most Californians say he has either taken the right amount of action (34%) or has not gone far enough (39%).

Californians may have the opportunity to vote on a new package of state gun regulations this fall. One potential ballot initiative would include, among other things, new regulations on ammunition sales. In recent PPIC Statewide Surveys, we’ve asked about the importance of several issues that may appear on the November ballot. Stricter gun regulation is one of only two issues considered to be very important by more than half of likely voters (the other is state bonds for school construction). Supporters of stricter gun laws are far more likely than opponents to say that this issue is very important to them (74% to 29%).

Chart note: Respondents were asked: “Please indicate which statement comes closest to your own view, even if neither is exactly right. The government goes too far in restricting the rights of citizens to own guns; or the government does not do enough to regulate access to guns.”

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