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North Carolinians for stricter gun control

Remain doubtful that it would have prevented recent mass shootings
September 19, 2019


RALEIGH, N.C. – Opinion on the impact of gun restrictions is a mixed bag according to the latest Civitas Poll. Of those surveyed, 48 percent said that either they or someone in their home owned a gun, 43 percent stated that they didn’t, and 8 percent were either unsure or refused to answer.

Respondents were then asked, “In general, do you feel that laws regarding the sale of guns are too strict, not strict enough, or should be kept the way they are now?”

Too strict 4%
Not strict enough 58%
Should remain the same 29%
Unsure/Refused 10%

Surprisingly, despite this sentiment, a plurality of those surveyed (48 percent) did not believe that stricter gun laws would have prevented recent mass shootings. Alternatively, 41 percent believe it would have prevented recent mass shootings and 11 percent were unsure or refused to answer.

Of those that own guns, 59 percent believe that stricter gun laws would have been ineffective in preventing recent shootings.

“Results on the questions related to gun policy show a distinct partisan divide on the issue. Most Republicans feel that gun laws should remain the same, while Democrats resoundingly say gun laws are not strict enough,” said Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson. “The genuinely telling result is that a near-majority of voters (48%) do not believe stricter gun laws would have prevented recent mass shootings. These results indicate that mass shootings are of great concern to the public, but there is no consensus on what to do about it.”

A significant piece of legislation, the Gun Violence Prevention Act, was presented in the General Assembly on February 14, 2019. Among other things, this bill would require a permit to purchase an assault weapon or long rifle, expanded wait periods, and liability insurance mandates for gun owners. Civitas has written about this bill here.

National public opinion on gun control continues to prove challenging for policymakers as there appears to be significant fluctuation between 1990 and 2018, according to Gallup. Within the survey period, the highest support for increased gun restrictions was in 1990 at 78 percent. In March of this year, public support for increased restrictions was at 61 percent.

The Civitas Poll also asked respondents whether they approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance. Since we began tracking this question last year, net approval for the President has risen among Republicans whereas net disapproval has declined among Democrats.

Interestingly, when asked about the President’s political ideology, nearly one-third of those surveyed were unable to describe it.

When it comes to the president’s political ideology, nearly one-third (31 percent) of likely voters are unable to describe it. Other responses included:

28%  very conservative
21%  somewhat conservative
14%  moderate
3%  liberal
3%   very liberal

Methodology: The sample size for the survey is 500 likely voters in North Carolina and the margin of error is +/-4.38% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 4.38 percentage points 19 times out of 20. Responses were gathered via landline and mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center. Demographics were adjusted to reflect the population from which the sample was drawn. The survey was conducted September 9 – 11, 2019 by Harper Polling. The total percentages of responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

For questions, or to arrange an interview, please contact Brooke Medina, communications director, at

Civitas has conducted live-caller voting in North Carolina since May 2005, and we are the only public policy organization offering statewide independent, nonpartisan data on a regular basis. Our polls have provided vital insights on what North Carolina voters think of the leaders and issues facing the state and nation.

Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization committed to advancing conservative ideas and shrinking the size of government. Civitas fights to eliminate government barriers to freedom so that North Carolinians can live a better life.

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