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Column: Gun owners support a wide range of gun control measures, Johns Hopkins study finds

FILE - This June 27, 2013 file photo shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo.  A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans have grown more divided over gun issues. The survey of adults showed about half favor gun-control measures while about half support preserving gun rights. The results underscore the divide in the United States along political, racial, gender and geographic lines. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
FILE - This June 27, 2013 file photo shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo. A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans have grown more divided over gun issues. The survey of adults showed about half favor gun-control measures while about half support preserving gun rights. The results underscore the divide in the United States along political, racial, gender and geographic lines. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Published May 18, 2018

Americans are in agreement on a large number of gun policy proposals regardless of whether they own guns, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health.

More than 80 percent of gun owners and non-owners favor universal background checks, for instance. Similar percentages say they support testing requirements for people wishing to obtain a concealed-carry permit.

Gun violence restraining orders, which allow family members to ask authorities to remove guns from people at risk of harming themselves or others, are also highly popular.

The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and is drawn from a nationally representative 2017 survey that interviewed 602 gun owners and 1,522 non-owners.

"Widespread claims that a chasm separates gun owners from non-gun owners in their support for gun safety policies distracts attention from many areas of genuine agreement — areas that can lead to policy solutions and result in the prevention of gun violence," lead author Colleen Barry said in a statement.

The study found that more than 60 percent of gun owners said they supported licensing requirements for all gun purchases. Other research has shown that in tandem with universal background check policies, licensing requirements may lead to significant reductions in homicide, suicide and shootings of law enforcement officers.

Some of the strongest evidence pertains to child-access-prevention laws, which mandate safe-storage requirements for guns in homes with children. The survey found that nearly 60 percent of gun owners and nearly 80 percent of non-owners backed such laws.

But there was less agreement on several other policies. About 50 percent of gun owners approved of a minimum age of 21 for handgun purchases, while nearly 70 percent of non-owners supported such a restriction. Less than half of gun owners supported bans on assault weapons or magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, compared with support for such policies from nearly 70 percent of non-owners.

Regardless, the study points to several areas of widespread agreement among gun owners and non-owners. Indeed, the researchers found approval gaps of greater than 10 points on eight of the 24 policies polled.

"Our research indicates that many policy options have wide public support and that consensus exists between gun owners and those who do not own guns," the authors concluded. "Given that gun issues are connected tightly to cultural and identity politics in America, it is noteworthy how much agreement we found in support for policies to regulate the ways people acquire and carry guns."

Despite widespread public agreement, Republicans in Congress have long thwarted attempts to tighten gun regulations at the federal level.

Christopher Ingraham writes about all things data.

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