New Survey Reveals More Americans Favor Handgun Ban Than Own Handguns

For Release: Wednesday, March 15, 2000

New Survey Details Regional Gun Ownership Rates as Well as Attitudes on Handgun Ban, Safety Regulation of Gun Industry

A new report from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago details for the first time both gun ownership patterns and views on gun control for all census regions of the country while also looking at the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The study, Attitudes Towards and Experiences with Guns: A State-Level Perspective, by Tom W. Smith and Luis Martos, was released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). Among the study’s findings are:

  • Handgun Ban. While only 25 percent of Americans own handguns, 37 percent of Americans favor “a law that would ban the possession of handguns except for the police and other authorized persons.” A majority (51 percent) of Middle Atlantic residents favor a handgun ban. Nearly 47 percent of New England residents favor a handgun ban, as do 40 percent of East North Central residents. Nearly six out of 10 New Yorkers (59 percent) favor a handgun ban. For many regions, more residents favor a handgun ban than own handguns. [See Charts One and Two.]
  • Gun Industry Regulation. Currently, the firearms industry is the only manufacturer of a consumer product that is specifically exempt from federal safety regulation. The survey found that federal safety regulation of the gun industry was favored by nearly 73 percent of the American public. Federal safety regulation of the gun industry was favored by more than 70 percent of residents in the following regions: New England, Middle Atlantic, West North Central, South Atlantic, West South Central, and Pacific. In the remaining regions, federal safety regulation was supported by at least 67 percent of residents. In each of the four states examined, more than 70 percent of residents supported federal safety regulation of the firearms industry. [See Charts Three and Four.]

VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann states, “When it comes to gun control, the American public is way ahead of our elected officials. Americans overwhelmingly want health and safety regulation of the gun industry. A significant percentage in some areas a majority favor a handgun ban and, in virtually every part of the country, more Americans favor a handgun ban than own handguns.”

Much of the source information contained in the study is taken from the annual National Gun Policy Survey (NGPS) for the years 1996, 1997, and 1998, which is conducted by NORC. The NGPS is the most comprehensive annual survey on national gun attitudes conducted in the United States. Results from the three years were calculated by NORC to obtain these regional and state numbers.

Chart One: Gun Ownership by Type Compared to Support for a Handgun Ban

Region Handgun Only Both Handgun and Long Gun Total Handgun  Support for Handgun Ban
United States 6.1 18.7 24.8 36.6
New England (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) 3.8 12.7 16.5 46.5
Middle Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA) 3.5 11.3 14.8 51.0
East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) 4.3 15.8  20.1 40.2
West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD) 3.4 18.0 21.4 28.9
South Atlantic (DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) 7.6 20.4 28.0 35.3
East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN) 11.6 28.4 40.0 27.1
West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX) 7.1 26.4 33.5 29.3
Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY) 6.7 26.5 33.2 28.9
Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) 7.2 16.4 23.6 33.9

Chart Two: Gun Ownership by Type Compared to Support for a Handgun Ban

State Handgun Only Both Handgun and Long Gun Total Handgun Support for Handgun Ban
California 7.0 15.6 22.6 36.9
New York 2.7 8.2 10.9 58.8
Pennsylvania 4.2 16.3 20.5 36.9
Texas 7.3 22.3 29.6 31.4

Chart Three: Percent Who Favor Federal Safety Regulations for Gun Design

United States 72.5
New England (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) 71.2
Middle Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA) 75.0
East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) 68.5
West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD) 74.0
South Atlantic (DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) 74.5
East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN) 68.9
West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX) 76.5
Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY) 67.0
Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) 72.5

Chart Four: Percent Who Favor Federal Safety Regulations for Gun Design

California 74.3
New York 78.8
Pennsylvania 72.0
Texas 76.8




About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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