There is extensive public support for background checks of prospective gun purchasers, from licensed dealers, to gun shows, to all other private transactions. A poll conducted in August 2012 found that 96% of respondents support a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun in order to determine whether the prospective buyer has been convicted of a felony. That poll also found that 91% of respondents favor preventing certain people, such as convicted felons or people with mental illness, from owning guns.
Gun owners and NRA members also strongly support background checks for gun purchasers. A May 2012 poll of gun owners – including NRA members – found that:
- 87% of NRA members agree that support for Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals; and
- 74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.
A poll conducted in April 2012 found that 91% of respondents support background checks for gun purchasers.
A February 2011 poll found that more than 83% of respondents in the five bellwether states of Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Virginia and Ohio, including more than 75% of gun owners, favor requiring all gun purchasers to pass a background check. Similarly, over 82% of poll respondents in these states, including more than 77% of gun owners, support requiring all sellers at gun shows to run background checks for all gun sales.
A January 2011 poll found that 89% favor requiring all firearm purchasers at gun shows to pass a criminal background check. This poll also found that 86% of respondents, including 81% of gun owners, favor requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, regardless of type of seller or venue.
A 2009 poll conducted for Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that NRA members (69%) and non-NRA member gun owners (85%) support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns.
A poll conducted shortly after the 2008 presidential election found that 83% of voters, including 84% of gun owners, favor criminal background checks for all gun sales.
Another 2008 poll conducted for Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 87% of Americans favor requiring everyone who sells guns to conduct criminal background checks on prospective purchasers, including 83% of gun owners.
A national survey conducted for Mayors Against Illegal Guns one year earlier, in January 2007, found that 92% of Americans favor (80% strongly favor) mandatory criminal background checks for all people purchasing guns. Ninety-one percent of gun owners favor mandatory background checks.
A national study of police chiefs’ support for firearm regulations found that 82% of respondents favored requiring a background check for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun.
A poll of likely 2004 presidential election voters found that 92% favor improving the background check system to make gun purchaser background checks faster and more accurate.That poll also found that 90% of Americans support requiring background checks for all firearms sales at gun shows.
Americans want background checks conducted on all prospective gun purchasers, including for private sales transactions:
- Eighty percent of Americans polled in 2006 support criminal background checks for all sales of guns.
- A poll of likely 2004 presidential election voters found that 79% of Americans support a requirement that anyone who purchases a firearm undergo a background check, even if they buy the firearm from a friend or neighbor.
- A 2001 poll found that over 77% of Americans favor requiring background checks for all private firearm sales.
A poll of high school students concerning firearm-related policies found that 92% of students support background checks for all gun sales.