Gun Owners, Nonowners Support Strengthening U.S. Gun Laws

Increases found in public support for licensing, universal background checks, regulation of gun dealers

TUESDAY, Sept. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Most gun owners and individuals who do not own guns support measures to strengthen U.S. gun laws, according to a report published online Sept. 9 in Health Affairs.

Colleen L. Barry, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues used data from the National Survey of Gun Policy fielded in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 to examine trends in support for more than two dozen gun policies over time.

The researchers found that during the study period, most policies had majority support. There were increases in public support for licensing and universal background checks of handgun purchasers, stronger regulation of gun dealers, and extreme risk protection orders over time. Requiring tests to demonstrate safe handling before carrying a concealed weapon was highly supported by gun owners and those who did not own guns; large differences were seen by gun ownership status in support for other concealed carry policies. In the 2019 survey, a new item indicated that 84 percent of Americans supported requiring first-time gun purchasers to take a safety course.

"Our study offers strong evidence that there are many policies with broad support among the American public that lawmakers can consider to reduce gun violence," Barry said in a statement. "In the face of highly contentious political debate, this study points to important areas where there is broad agreement among the public."

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