STATE – Three-quarters of registered voters in the Garden State favor greater restrictions on guns and ammunition, according to the most recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind. An even larger number (93%) support instituting more proactive mental illness measures to reduce gun violence, while nearly two-thirds (61%) support reducing the level of violence in movies and videogames.
“The Newtown shooting has brought the issue of gun violence back into the national spotlight, and New Jersey voters are clearly united behind the belief that more needs to be done to address preventable tragedies that result from guns ending up in the hands of the wrong people,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Recently proposed legislation in the New Jersey Assembly that would require mental health evaluations and home inspections for potential gun owners has the potential to receive public support.”
When it comes to measures that have been offered in response to the recent tragedy by gun rights advocates – placing armed guards in public places like schools, and fewer restrictions on firearms and ammunition – Garden Staters are decidedly less supportive. Residents oppose, by 50 percent, the National Rifle Association’s proposed plan to arm schools, with 45 percent in favor. A significantly smaller percentage of voters (24%) support fewer restrictions on guns and ammunition.
“A lack of support for these measures comes as no surprise since New Jersey residents are clearly more pro-gun control in their beliefs than supportive of the rights of gun owners,” said Jenkins. Fifty-eight percent of respondents identify themselves as “pro-gun control,” compared with nearly a third (31%) who consider themselves to be “pro-gun ownership.”
It’s also notable that New Jersey is less armed than the rest of the nation. Sixteen percent say they or someone in their household owns a handgun or other firearm. As for the effect that owning a firearm has on an individual’s attitudes toward gun control, gun owners are far less likely to endorse more restrictions. A slight majority of gun owners (53%) support more restrictions, while four out of five non-gun owners offer a similar response (81%). Gun ownership is less determinative of attitudes toward other proposed measures.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from January 2 through January 6, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.
NJTODAY.NET’s own unscientific poll showed a different result. On Monday morning, just 47 percent of those responding said that Congress should pass stricter gun control laws, while 54 percent opposed tighter restrictions.