Polls show Virginia voters support gun control measures

Polls show Virginia voters support gun control measures
Two recent polls show Virginia voters support gun control measures. (Source: Pixabay)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two recent polls show Virginia residents support increased gun control, according to the Wason Center for Public Policy.

The polls, conducted in 2016 and 2018, show opposition to gun control measures at 41 percent both years while support was at 54 percent in 2018 and 55 percent in 2016. Both results are well outside the polls’ 3.6-percent margin of error.

A special session of the Virginia General Assembly is set to begin July 9 in response to a shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead.

The polls show a deep divide between registered voters along partisan lines when asked about gun control generically. However, the divide is much less prominent on specific gun control measures.

In the 2018 poll, 82 percent of Democrats favored gun control compared to 64 percent of Republicans favoring gun rights. But on the question of background checks fro all gun sales, both sides supported the measure - 96 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans.

That provision is one of Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals announced Wednesday, along with a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazine, bump stocks and silencers.

Virginia voters also oppose the concealed carry of firearms without a permit. Overall, 76 percent were opposed to unlicensed conceal carry, sometimes referred to as Constitutional carry, in 2018. The 2016 poll showed 84 percent of Virginia voters were opposed to it.

Both Democrats and Republicans were opposed to unlicensed concealed carry, but both saw their opposition drop from 2016 to 2018. For Democrats, the opposition dropped from 93 percent to 88 percent. For Republicans, opposition dipped from 77 percent to 72 percent.

Additionally, an assault-style weapons ban was supported by a nearly two-thirds majority in 2018 - 65 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed. Democrats supported that measure 84 percent to 16 percent while Republicans were evenly split 49 percent to 49 percent. The 2016 poll showed Republicans opposing an assault weapons ban 50 percent to 45 percent.

Northam’s full list of proposals were released Wednesday and can be seen below.

  • Legislation requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions. The bill mandates that any person selling, renting, trading, or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
  • Legislation banning dangerous weapons. This will include bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
  • Legislation to reinstate Virginia’s successful law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
  • Legislation requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
  • Legislation creating an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
  • Legislation prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. The bill expands Virginia law which currently prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
  • Legislation enhancing the punishment for allowing access to loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill also raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
  • Legislation enabling localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law. This includes regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.

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