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American Views on Gun Policy

Left and right largely agree on tightening certain laws, yet there are notable partisan and gender gaps.

Robert Roy Britt
3 min readAug 4, 2019


With this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio dominating the news, here’s something that’s not news: A majority of Americans—57%—agree that gun laws should be stricter, and a larger majority agree on tightening a handful of specific policies, with 85% saying background checks should be required for private gun sales and sales at gun shows, and roughly two-thirds backing bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. That’s according to a survey last fall by the Pew Research Center.

Women and men view the issue much differently:

A separate survey by the Gallup organization, also from fall 2018 but with different questions and methods, finds 61% of Americans support stricter laws on the sale of firearms. The figure has gone up and down over the years: it was 78% in 1990 and reached a low of 43% in 2012. The 2018 Gallup survey found stricter gun laws are favored by 87% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans. While 70% of women favor stricter gun laws, according to Gallup, 51% of men are so inclined.

Back to the survey from Pew, which separated the results into two groups: Democrats and people who lean Democrat (left, for the purposes of the following breakdown) and Republicans and people who lean Republican (right).

On three of the 10 questions, more than three-quarters of people in both groups — left / right — support tighter policies:

  • Prevent people with mental illness from buying guns: 89% / 89%
  • Require background checks for private sales and sales at gun shows: 91% / 79%
  • Bar gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists: 86% / 83%

On three other…



Robert Roy Britt

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower