ICHV News & Blog

Voters Want Stronger Gun Laws

Voters in Illinois are ready for changes to gun laws, and there is a large bloc who is more likely
to support a candidate who votes for stronger laws. They are not by any means anti-gun, but
they strongly favor laws that will help prevent guns falling into the wrong hands and protect their
families.

While opposed to conceal and carry generally, if it must happen, voters favor a broad range of
limits on who can carry weapons where. They don’t stop there. There is also near universal
support for background checks on all gun sales, and strong support for banning military-style
assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines.
Voters do not buy the NRA’s arguments that common-sense gun laws are a slippery slope
towards infringing on 2nd Amendment rights and confiscating guns. They believe there is a
moderate, middle-ground approach, and are looking for lawmakers who fill that space.
The below are key findings and recommendations from a survey of 600 registered voters in
Illinois, with an additional 300 oversample of Will and DuPage counties. A phone survey was
conducted from March 27 through April 2, 2013. Margin of error is +/- 4 percent for the total
electorate and +/- 5 percent for Will and DuPage counties (combined).
Lawmakers’ positions on guns can impact elections in a way that benefits candidates
who support stronger gun laws. Voters in Illinois are now ready to vote on this issue—and in
contrast to conventional wisdom, are now more likely to support a candidate who supports
stronger gun laws by a wide margin over one who does not. Four times as many voters say they
are more likely to support a candidate who favors stronger guns laws than someone who does
not, a stunning margin as shown in the table below. Fifty-six percent (including 51 percent of
gun owners) are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong conceal and carry
law; only 13 percent will support a candidate who wants a weak law.

 

Most impressive here is the intensity: 40 percent are “much” more likely to support a candidate
who wants a strong law. This is nearly twice what we normally see, and 13 points higher than
those who say conceal and carry will make no difference on their vote.
The impact is even higher when asked about additional gun laws and background checks. Sixtytwo
percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a strong law with even more
provisions outside of conceal and carry, such as universal background checks, limiting
ammunition magazines, banning military-style assault weapons, and registering guns. And if the
question is limited to background checks as the only additional gun law, 68 percent are more
likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong gun law that includes background checks on
all gun sales.

Illinois voters are more concerned with protecting people from gun violence. Fifty-nine
percent want stronger gun laws, including 48 percent of gun owners. And indicating how far they
are willing to go to keep people safe, by a 14 point margin, Illinois voters believe that it is more
important to protect people from gun violence than it is to protect the rights of gun owners (53-
39).

This is not to say the people of Illinois are anti-gun. They are not. One-third of voters report
having at least 1 gun in their household. Nor are the gun owners of Illinois more Republican: 44
percent are Democrats and 46 percent are Republicans. As we’ll see more of below, commonsense
gun laws cut across party and gun-ownership lines.

Voters in Illinois are ready to do something about gun violence.
If conceal and carry is required, there is broad and deep support for a range of
regulations. To be clear, most don’t even want conceal and carry at all: 53 percent oppose
allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public. But if conceal and carry must be the law
of the land, voters were very clear about wanting a strong law with a range of restrictions. The
table below shows that a range of provisions to conceal and carry receive strong support,
including requiring those who want to carry a weapon to attend mandatory safety classes,
forbidding concealed weapons in schools, casinos, buses, colleges, and any place the serves
alcohol, and requiring those who want to carry to show a clean record and demonstrate a good
reason to need it.

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Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) is the oldest and largest statewide organization in the U.S. working to prevent the devastation caused by firearms. Founded in 1975 by four suburban Chicago women concerned about the tragic consequences of handgun proliferation and availability, ICHV works on a variety of fronts to educate, raise public awareness, and build coalitions to enact change in laws and behavior. For 40 years, ICHV has been a leader among state gun violence prevention groups.

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