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Poll shows pessimism about stricter gun laws

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Virginians favor some stricter gun regulations but doubt they will much to prevent mass shootings, according to a Roanoke College poll.

In interviews with 583 Virginians conducted from Jan. 14 through Jan. 22, respondents said they favor many new regulations but they think that better enforcement of existing laws is more likely to prevent gun violence.

In the survey, residents were asked a series of questions about guns and gun violence. They blamed poor policies to deal with mental illness (56 percent); followed by an inability to stop those who want to kill others (38 percent); violence in the media, such as video games, TV and movies (28 percent); poor enforcement of gun laws (26 percent) and weak gun laws (21 percent).

When asked if they favored banning a variety of different types of firearms, a majority (58 percent) favored banning “assault rifles.” Virginians are evenly split, however, regarding banning all semi-automatic rifles (48 percent favor, 46 percent oppose), and marginally oppose banning semi-automatic handguns (42 percent favor, 50 percent oppose) and semi-automatic shotguns (41 percent favor, 50% oppose).
Only 16 percent of those interviewed favor banning all guns. A ban on all magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds was favored by 53 percent.

A majority of those surveyed (62 percent) favor having armed security at schools to make them safer. A majority (58 percent), however, opposes allowing teachers and administrators to carry firearms in schools.

Fully half (50 percent) of those interviewed said that stricter gun control laws would make no difference to their personal safety, while one-third (34 percent) said stricter laws would make them more safe, and 12 percent said they would make them less safe.

“While little here is startling, there are a few surprises,”. Harry Wilson , director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College and author of “Guns, Gun Control and Elections,” said in a statement. “Virginians at present favor expanding background checks, gun registration, and banning ‘assault rifles’ and magazines that can hold more than 10 round of ammunition. Yet, they are pessimistic that new laws will reduce gun violence.

“Gun owners support strengthening background checks, but oppose other types of regulations. It is interesting to note that while non-owners favor stricter laws, they share much of the gun owners’ skepticism regarding the utility of additional laws.”

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

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