Half of Republicans support tougher gun laws

Could Republicans be changing their minds about gun legislation?
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of five Republican representatives who voted in favor of gun legislation on June 8, 2022.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of five Republican representatives who voted in favor of gun legislation on June 8, 2022. Photo credit (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

With 50% of Republicans saying they would be in favor of stricter gun laws – according to Ipsos poll results released this week – could Republican attitudes toward gun laws be changing?

Less than a year ago, a Pew Research Center poll found that just 20% of Republicans would be in favor of stricter gun laws. An Ipsos poll conducted last year found that 35% of Republican respondents wanted gun laws to be stricter.

However, NPR/Marist poll results released Thursday found that only 20% of Republicans believe that controlling gun violence should be a priority over protecting guns. Comparatively, 92% of Democrats and 54% of Independents believe preventing gun violence is more important.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday voted in favor of a bill to establish new criminal offenses and expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. Just five Republicans voted in favor of the legislation: Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Rep. Chris Jacobs of New York, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan.

During a Wednesday meeting that included harrowing testimony from people who witnessed the carnage at recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y.
and Uvalde, Texas, some Republicans held their position that laws limiting gun ownership violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“I will not yield my opposition to these unconstitutional laws,” said Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana. Last month, a shooting at a Louisiana high school injured four people.

The bill passed in the house but is expected to fail in the Senate, according to CNN. However, a bipartisan group of senators are working on a gun legislation deal this week.

According to the Ipsos poll, Republicans are less likely to support stricter gun laws than Democrats or Independent voters. A vast majority of Democrats, 88% and a significant majority of Independents, 67%, want stricter gun laws in the U.S.

Overall, nearly 70% of respondents to that poll, which included 488 Democrats, 416 Republicans, and 149 Independents surveyed from June 3 to June 6 were in favor of stricter gun laws than we currently have. Ipsos said that is consistent with trends over the past five years.

The NPR/Marist survey of 1,063 adults conducted May 31 through June 6 found that 59% of U.S. adults believe it is more important to control gun violence. This sentiment “is at its highest point in nearly a decade,” said the poll.

While few Republicans in Congress are expected to support gun control legislation, registered voters are strongly in favor of some safety measures.

For example, 86% who responded to the NPR/Marist poll said they would definitely vote for a congressional candidate who supports increased funding for mental health screening and treatment, 82% said they would vote for a candidate who supports requiring background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or private sales and 74% said they would vote for a candidate who supports red flag laws.

“As a strong Second Amendment defender, I believe we have to be the ones putting forward reasonable solutions to gun violence,” said Kinzinger, one of the Republicans who backed the House bill, in a Twitter post earlier this month. “I’m focused on saving lives & I'm hopeful more of my colleagues will reach across the aisle to do the same.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)