More than half of Americans want stricter gun laws, Pew study finds

  • Study finds stark differences between Republican and Democratic gun owners
  • Half of Americans see gun violence as a ‘very big problem’

Among gun owners, the survey found clear differences in firearm usage based on partisan affiliation. Photograph: John Locher/AP

More than half of Americans want stricter gun laws, while still preserving the rights of most people in most places to carry most types of guns, a Pew Research Center survey has found.

While half of Americans see gun violence as a very big problem in their country, fewer than 10% of American adults said that “almost no one” should be able to legally own a gun, and only 10% said that “almost no types” of guns should be legally available to buy. Overall, however, 52% want stricter gun laws.

In other countries, last week’s mass shooting on members of Congress that left House majority whip Steve Scalise seriously wounded might have started a debate over stricter gun control laws. In America, the response was different: the leading gun rights organization agreed to train members of Congress and their staff on how to use guns in self-defense.

The National Rifle Association announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to offer firearms training courses to members of Congress “regardless of political affiliation”. But the new survey suggests that there are stark partisan differences in how Democratic and Republican gun owners use their firearms – as well as in their openness to new gun laws.

The Pew survey of nearly 4,000 American adults found some areas of agreement. Strong majorities of gun owners and non-gun owners support background checks for private sales and sales at gun shows, as well as barring those on terror watchlists from buying guns – two federal policies Republicans in Congress have rejected.

Even among gun owners, though, the survey found clear differences in firearm usage. Republican gun owners reported shooting or going to a gun range more often than Democratic gun owners did. And…

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