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Majority Of Americans Say More Concealed Weapons Will Make Them Safer

Published: October 21, 2015
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Source: Gallup

PRINCETON, N.J. -- A majority of Americans, 56%, believe that if more Americans carried concealed weapons after passing a criminal background check and training course, the country would be safer.

If more Americans carried concealed weapons, would the U.S. be safer or less safe?

These results are from Gallup's annual Crime poll conducted Oct. 7-11. In the wake of mass shootings at schools and other public places, some have argued that the shootings could have been stopped if any of the victims had carried weapons. Others argue that having more citizens carrying weapons can lead to more violence and accidental shooting.

State of US if More Americans Carried Concealed Weapons

Most states have some sort of permitting process allowing the carrying of concealed weapons, but the requirements and procedures to carry weapons vary significantly by state. The Gallup question did not get into detail on specific requirements other than mentioning that the person with the concealed weapon would have to pass a criminal background check and training course.

Among key subgroups, Democrats and those with postgraduate education are least likely to believe that more concealed weapons would make the U.S. safer. Republicans and gun owners are most likely to say it would make the nation safer. Younger Americans are more likely to choose the "safer" option than those aged 30 and above.

If more Americans carried concealed weapons, would the US be safer or less safe?

Strong Support for Universal Background Checks

One of the most commonly advanced proposals relating to gun control is background checks for gun purchasers. President Barack Obama has called repeatedly for legislation mandating such checks, but the most recent effort failed to be passed into law in 2013. For their part, Americans strongly agree with the idea of laws requiring universal background checks using a centralized database for all gun purchases in the U.S. Eighty-six percent favor such a law, while 12% oppose it.

Favor or Oppose a law requiring universal background checks

Americans are more divided, however, on whether a law requiring universal background checks would reduce the number of mass shootings. Slightly less than half think such a law would reduce the number of such shootings either a great deal or a moderate amount, while a little more than half say that it would have little to no effect.

Would such a law reduce the number of mass shootings?

Nearly half of those who favor a law requiring universal background checks doubt it would reduce the number of mass shootings.

Bottom Line

The seemingly continuous incidence of mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years underscores the need for a focus on what can be done to prevent such tragic events in the future. Previous Gallup research has shown that Americans believe a failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are a danger to others and easy access to guns are more to blame for mass shootings than other causes tested.

Gallup's most recent poll on gun control shows that a majority of Americans favor stricter gun sale laws in this country. At the same time, however, less than half of Americans believe that one such stricter law -- universal background checks -- would prevent mass shootings. In fact, a majority say that if more Americans carried concealed weapons after passing background checks and training, the nation would be safer.

Previous research shows that three in four Americans are opposed to banning handguns, and Americans in the past have overwhelmingly interpreted the Second Amendment as giving Americans the rights to own guns. All of this research supports the conclusion that Americans believe they should be allowed to own and carry guns, but with more stringent background checks. Americans are inclined to believe that carrying properly permitted guns could make the country safer.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 7-11, 2015, with a random sample of 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

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