Americans remain conflicted on issues of firearms


SAINT LEO, FL – A new poll released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows that 60 percent of those surveyed nationally believe some new, additional limited licensing or permitting, and some restrictions on certain firearms, such as assault weapons, are necessary.

Of the remaining balance of the 1,015 adults polled online March 13 through March 17, 2016, 24.9 percent said there should be no new, additional regulations or control of firearms for any reason. And 7.6 percent of respondents indicate firearms should not be owned privately.

More than three-quarters (78.3 percent) of Americans surveyed report the issue of gun control/gun rights will be very (49.3 percent) or somewhat important (29 percent) to them in the November 2016 elections. The Saint Leo poll showed 35.1 percent said they were more likely to support a candidate in November 2016, who opposes any new, additional controls on firearms. But a broader group supports candidates who favor some ownership control.

A parallel online poll of 540 residents in Florida generated similar findings.

“There is always a tension,” said Dr. Douglas Astolfi, Saint Leo history professor and polling institute expert. “People seem willing to live with curtailment of assault rifles, but don’t want to give up firearms they own.”

The Saint Leo poll shows 82.8 percent strongly and somewhat agree that active duty military should allowed to carry their firearms on U.S. military bases within the United States. The high figure indicates that respondents may be concerned following high profile, mass shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, as well as attacks on recruiting and reserve stations in Chattanooga, TN.

Support for so-called open-carry laws was high as 55.1 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree that there should laws allowing qualified citizens to openly carry firearms (with exceptions such as day care centers and schools). The poll shows 83.7 percent said firearm purchasers should also undergo mental health background checks in addition to criminal background checks.