A second survey of New Hampshire residents shows continuing support for new gun safety measures in the Granite State.
The first poll of 656 registered voters was conducted by New England College on January 21 and 22, 2013. The margin of error in this poll was 3.82 percent.
Respondents favored universal background checks on gun purchasers by an overwhelming 88 percent to 10 percent margin. When asked if they supported a ban on the purchase of military-style assault weapons in New Hampshire, 72 percent of those contacted agreed, while only 24 percent disagreed.
Those were the only two questions included in the New England College survey. The findings of the second poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire are in line with those reported by New England College. In the UNH survey, 581 randomly selected New Hampshire adults were interviewed over landline and cellular telephones between January 30 and February 5, 2013. The margin of sampling error for the survey was 4.1 percent.
A total of six questions regarding gun safety were included in the UNH survey. The first asked if the respondent favored universal background checks to determine if prospective gun buyers had been convicted of a felony. Fully 94 percent supported background checks, while only 5 percent opposed the idea.
This finding of widespread support for background checks matched that reported in the New England College survey.
A second question dealt with the so-called “gun show loophole.” Federally-licensed gun dealers are required to do background checks on purchasers. Private sellers at gun shows are not required to make these checks. It is estimated that 40 percent of gun purchases slip through this private-seller loophole.
When asked if background checks should be run on all gun purchases at gun shows, 91 percent of those interviewed agreed, while only 7 percent disagreed.
A third question inquired whether people with mental illnesses should be prevented from buying guns. Fully 84 percent agreed, while only 10 percent disagreed.
The fourth question asked if private citizens should not be allowed to purchase military-style assault weapons. Rapid fire from assault weapons allows many people to be shot in a short period of time. They were used in the Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, massacres.
Here, 64 percent favored the ban on assault weapons and 31 percent opposed it. This finding of majority support for banning assault weapons agreed with the New England College poll result.
The fifth question asked if a federal government database should be created to track all gun sales. Sixty-three percent agreed with a federal database and 31 percent disagreed.
Finally, the last question asked whether ammunition clips holding more than 10 bullets should be outlawed. Large capacity magazines permit many shots to be fired before an assailant has to re-load, increasing deaths and injuries to innocent bystanders.
In this case, 61 percent supported limiting the size of magazines and 34 percent opposed it.
Please note that in both surveys, large majorities of respondents supported every proposed gun safety measure. Why then is there a general belief that in New Hampshire residents oppose gun laws?
First, because nobody ever bothered to check. In addition, the slaughters at places like Newtown and Aurora have made clear the price we pay for allowing unrestricted gun use. Reasonable restrictions are placed on other areas of our lives, such as the operation of motor vehicles, where dangerous practices might jeopardize the lives of others. Why not guns?
Second, it depends on how the question is asked. A vague, catch-all phrase like “gun control” has been so generally vilified and disparaged that it gains little support. However, when specific, concrete proposals are put before the public, such as universal background checks and magazine size limits, the action to be taken is made clear, and support rises dramatically.
Third, a vocal minority favoring virtually unrestricted gun use sets up such a loud hue and cry at any mention of gun regulation that they appear to be greater in number than they really are.
The facts are plain, however. A substantial majority of Granite Staters believe that new gun safety measures are needed to reduce the appalling number of gun deaths.