MTSU Poll - Should laws covering sale of firearms be more strict?

MTSU has released the following information on a gun poll: When Tennessee residents last were asked about laws for firearm sales — in the spring of 2011 following the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — 43 percent said the laws should be kept as they are, according to statewide polling data from Middle Tennessee State University.

The MTSU Poll question of whether “… laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are …” also found that 41 percent said they should be more strict and only 12 percent said they should be less strict (the remaining 4 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer the question).

Compared to responses to the same question in the fall 2010 MTSU Poll, which was conducted before the Giffords shooting, this was a slight increase in those who said that laws covering firearms sales should stay the same (39 percent) and those who said they should be less strict (9 percent); and it was a slight decrease in the number who said they should be more strict (48 percent). These differences, however, were within the two polls’ margins of error.

Around the same time that the spring 2011 MTSU Poll was conducted, the same question regarding firearms laws was asked of a nationwide sample for an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Nationally, a 52 percent majority said that laws covering the sale of firearms should be more strict, followed by 37 percent who said they should be kept as they are now, and 10 percent who said they should be less strict.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal recently asked the American public this question again in mid-January 2013, following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting.

The poll found that the number who said firearms laws should be more strict had increased to 56 percent, while those favoring status quo or less strict had declined to 35 percent and 7 percent, respectively; though these differences were within these two polls margins of error as well.

“The Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting may prove to be a watershed moment not only for the national debate about guns, but also for public opinion in Tennessee regarding the issue,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU Poll. “If previous findings are a good indicator, we can expect opinions in Tennessee after the tragedy to either hold steady or perhaps even see increases in opposition to additional gun control and consequently diverge further from national opinion as a whole.”

MTSU Reports: Conflicting views on concealed-carry in TN

However, previous MTSU Poll results provide a seemingly contradictory indication of where Tennesseans may stand on the ongoing debate regarding whether state law should require employers to allow employees to keep guns in their cars while at work.

In fall 2009 during another debate about the expansion of places where concealed-carry permit holders should be allowed to take their weapons, the MTSU Poll found that majorities of Tennesseans said permit holders should not be allowed to carry handguns in public parks (54 percent), restaurants (60 percent), or bars (80 percent).

“If Tennesseans think the same way about parking lots where people work as they do public parks, restaurants, or bars, we should expect significant opposition to the proposal to allow guns there,” Reineke said.

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