New study: Tennesseans value gun rights, agree stricter sales rules needed

MURFREESBORO (WATE) – Gun rights supporters and gun control supporters may have some common ground in Tennessee.

A new study by Middle Tennessee State University found both gun rights and gun control supporters in Tennessee favor regulating private and gun show sales. They also favored laws preventing gun sales to the mentally ill.

The study found that Tennessee gun control supports strongly favor a ban on assault-style weapons and creating a federal database to track all gun sales. According to the study, most Tennessee voters think gun ownership does more to “protect people from becoming victims of crime” than to “put people’s safety at risk.”

“Tennesseans generally favor preserving access to guns, and pretty passionately so,” said Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “But there appears to be some common ground between gun rights supporters and gun control supporters when it comes to regulating private and gun show sales and sales to the mentally ill.”

Blake said the study mirrored findings in a national poll by the Pew Research Center. The poll, which used the same questions.

“Our poll represents a pretty stringent test of how acceptable these two measures might be to gun rights advocates,” Reineke said. “According to the Pew Center poll, only 47 percent of Americans think protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership. Comparing that figure to the 69 percent in our poll of Tennessee voters suggests that if these two measures can find strong general support here, they can probably find it just about anywhere.”

MTSU polled 603 random registered voters in Tennessee from October 25 to 27.

Key findings

  • Most think it is more important to “protect the right to own guns” (69 percent) than to “control gun ownership” (23 percent). The rest don’t know or declined to answer.
  • These attitudes run “hot” emotionally, with 92 percent of gun rights supporters saying they feel “strongly” about their view, and 86 percent of gun control supporters saying they feel “strongly” about their view.
  • Most Tennessee voters think gun ownership does more to “protect people from becoming victims of crime” (63 percent) than to “put people’s safety at risk” (24 percent).
  • But support runs high for passing “laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns” (85 percent in favor) and for “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks” (83 percent in favor).

Copyright 2015 WATE. All rights reserved.

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