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.1

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.2

A poll conducted in April 2012 found that 91% of respondents support background checks for gun purchasers.3

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.4

A January 2011 poll found that 89% favor requiring all firearm purchasers at gun shows to pass a criminal background check.5 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.6

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.7

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.8

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.9

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.10

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.11

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.12

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.13
  • 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.14
  • A 2001 poll found that over 77% of Americans favor requiring background checks for all private firearm sales.15

A poll of high school students concerning firearm-related policies found that 92% of students support background checks for all gun sales.16

Notes
  1. CNN/ORC International poll (Aug. 9, 2012), at http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/08/09/rel7a.pdf. ⤴︎
  2. Press Release, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New Poll of NRA Members by Frank Luntz Shows Strong Support for Common-Sense Gun Laws, Exposing Significant Divide Between Rank-and-file Members and NRA Leadership (May 2012), at http://mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr006-12.shtml. ⤴︎
  3. Ipsos/Reuters Poll, Gun Rights & Regulations (April 2012), at http://www.ipsos-na.com/download/pr.aspx?id=11545. Press Release at http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5586. ⤴︎
  4. Momentum Analysis, American Viewpoint, Harstad Strategic Research, Bellwether Research & Hart Research Polling for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Results from Surveys in AZ, CO, IN, VA, OH (Feb. 2011), at http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/poll_slides_2011.pdf. See also Press Release, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New Polls in Five Bellwether States Show Overwhelming Support to Fix Gun Background Check System (Mar. 2, 2011), at http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr020-11.shtml. ⤴︎
  5. American Viewpoint/Momentum Analysis, Momentum Analysis & American Viewpoint National Survey (for Mayors Against Illegal Guns) (Jan. 2011) at http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/maig_poll_01_18_2011.pdf. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Dr. Frank Luntz/Word Doctors for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, America’s Gun Owners Support Common Sense Gun Laws 12 (Dec. 2009) at http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/luntz_poll_slides.pdf. ⤴︎
  8. Penn, Schoen, & Berland Associates, Inc. for Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Post-Election Analysis: Sensible Gun Laws Builds Bridges not Burns Them to Moderates, McCain, and Even Gun Owners in Post-Heller World (Nov. 18, 2008), available at: http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/pdf/memo-11-18-08.pdf. ⤴︎
  9. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research & the Tarrance Group for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Americans Support Common Sense Measures to Cut Down on Illegal Guns 3, 6 (Apr. 10, 2008), available at http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/polling_memo.pdf. ⤴︎
  10. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research & The Tarrance Group for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Strong Public Support for Tough Enforcement of Common Sense Gun Laws (Graphs) 12, 18 (Jan. 23, 2007), available at http://www.greenbergresearch.com/articles/1849/2630_MAIGslides.pdf. ⤴︎
  11. Amy Thompson et al., Police Chiefs’ Perceptions of the Regulation of Firearms, 30 Am. J. Prev. Med. 305, 309 (2006), at http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0749-3797/PIIS0749379705005179.pdf. ⤴︎
  12. Penn, Schoen, & Berland Associates, Inc. for Americans for Gun Safety, Winning the Gun Vote (Oct. 16, 2003) at http://www.dlc.org/documents/AGS_Penn_1003.pdf. ⤴︎
  13. Tom W. Smith, National Opinion Research Center (NORC)/University of Chicago, Public Attitudes Towards the Regulation of Firearms (Mar. 2007) (discussing the results of the “2006 General Social Survey” NORC/University of Chicago) , at http://www.icpgv.org/pdf/NORCPoll.pdf. ⤴︎
  14. Penn, Schoen, & Berland Associates, Inc. for Americans for Gun Safety, Winning the Gun Vote (Oct. 16, 2003) at http://www.dlc.org/documents/AGS_Penn_1003.pdf. ⤴︎
  15. Tom W. Smith, National Opinion Research Center (NORC)/University of Chicago, Public Attitudes Towards the Regulation of Firearms (Mar. 2007) (discussing the results of the 2001 “National Gun Policy Survey” conducted by NORC/University of Chicago), at http://www.icpgv.org/pdf/NORCPoll.pdf. ⤴︎
  16. Katherine Vittes, Susan Sorenson & Dennis Gilbert, High School Students’ Attitudes about Firearms Policies, U. Pa. School Soc. Pol’y & Prac. Departmental Paper 22 (Dec. 2003) at http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=spp_papers. ⤴︎