Survey | Politics | Health

APM survey: AMERICANS’ views on KEY GUN POLICIES

Part 3: Mandating that guns be stored with locks in place

 

Oct. 2, 2019

Our nonpartisan, nationally representative survey provides new information about the American public’s opinions about gun policies and behaviors among those who own guns (or live with those who do). The survey was conducted July 16 to 21, 2019, just two weeks prior to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and it covered several topics. This is the third and last release from that survey; the first release covered “red flag” laws and the characteristics associated with gun ownership and the second covered respondents’ knowledge about gun-related deaths.


An overwhelming number of Americans, regardless of background, want guns be stored with a lock in place

More than three-quarters of Americans support mandating locked gun storage, including 60% who strongly support and 18% who somewhat support such regulations.

Less than one in five Americans opposes mandating that guns be locked when they are not in use.

Nearly 8 in 10 support mandating that guns are stored with a lock in place; nearly 2 in 10 are opposed

Graph that shows a majority of Americans support storing guns with a lock in place.

Who supports mandating that guns be locked when they’re stored?

Americans regardless of background, support mandating locked gun storage. In some cases, however, the level of support differs in interesting ways.

  • Americans from across the political spectrum support a locked gun mandate: Nearly 7 in 10 Republicans support a measure, compared with nearly 8 in 10 independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats.

  • A two-thirds majority of gun-owners supports mandated locked gun storage, including the 45% who strongly support such a mandate.

  • 83% of women support a locked gun storage mandate, compared with 74% of men. When it comes to strongly supporting that measure, 69% of women strongly support such a mandate, compared with 51% of men.

  • Over 80% of those with at least some college support mandating that guns are locked while stored, compared with 73% of those with a high school degree or less education.

  • 81% of those living in metropolitan areas support a locked gun mandate, compared with 68% of those living outside of metropolitan areas.

The group that is most opposed to such a mandate lies within gun-owning households: roughly half of those from gun-owning households who “only sometimes” or “never” store their guns locked also oppose a mandate to lock guns while in storage, and roughly 40% of this group strongly oppose such a mandate.

A majority of Americans support mandating locked gun storage, including gun owners and Republicans

Demographic breakdown

How often do gun-owners lock their guns when they store them?

According to this survey, nearly 30% of American adults own guns, and nearly 10% don’t own firearms themselves, but live with someone who does. These gun-owning households represent 40% of the population, and a majority of them (57%) say they always store their gun locked.

Most of those who own guns or live with a gun owner store their guns locked, but 1 in 5 never lock their guns

gun-survey-3-graph-3.png

This survey of over 1,000 Americans includes 374 people from gun-owning households, and while this subsample does not allow for analysis of subtle differences among groups, some differences do emerge.

  • One-third of men indicate that the guns in their households are either never locked (23%) or locked only sometimes (12%), compared with one-quarter of women.

  • Nearly one-third of those age 65 or older indicate never locking their guns, another 13 percent indicate doing so only sometimes.

  • Over three-quarters of those living in metropolitan areas indicate that they typically lock their guns (either always or most of the time) when they store them, but rural residents are evenly split in how many usually do and how many usually don’t store their guns locked. Furthermore, over one-third of rural residents from gun-owning households say they never lock their guns while not in use.


PARTNERS FOR THIS SURVEY

The APM Research Lab conducted this survey jointly with two partners: Guns & America, a reporting collaboration of 10 public radio stations covering the role of guns in American life; and Call to Mind, American Public Media's initiative to foster new conversations about mental health. Data collection was conducted by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.