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CBS News Poll: Gun Control

A recent CBS News poll shows that although nearly half the American public thinks the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to own guns, nearly as many, 41 percent, disagree.

The poll was conducted prior to the latest deadly shooting spree in Georgia.


Regardless of their interpretation of the Second Amendment, a large majority of Americans say they favor stricter gun control measures.

More than 8 in ten favor requiring manufacturers to include trigger locks on all guns and extending the waiting period at gun shows in order to conduct background checks on gun buyers. By 61 percent to 33 percent, Americans oppose permitting people to carry concealed firearms.


The public is also supportive of two proposals suggested by Democratic presidential candidates calling for licensing all gun buyers and mandatory registration of firearms. Somewhat more favor Vice President Al Gore's licensing proposal than support his opponent Bill Bradley's plan which would call for mandatory registration in addition to licensing, though large majorities favor both.

Seventy-nine percent say they favor requiring all gun buyers to pass a safety course and obtain a photo license in order to purchase guns; 70 percent say they favor requiring all gun owners to register each firearm with the government.

Party differences between the Republicans and the Democrats do exist, but more in their interpretations of what the Second Amendment means than in their opinions about specific gun control measures. A slight majority of Republicans, 53 percent, think the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to own guns, compared with only 36 percent of Democrats who think so.

However, even though Republicans tend to be more opposed to gun control than Democrats, a clear majority of Republicans still favor stricter gun control measures, including the two Democratic presidential candidate's proposals on licensing and registration.


Not surprisingly, there are significant gender differences in attitudes about gun control, with women being generally more in favor of gun control than men.

In this poll, 54 percent of men said the Second Amendment guaranteed the right to own guns; only 36 percent of women said so. Nine out of every ten women support both trigger locks laws and extending the waiting period at gun shows, compared with 76 percent and 81 percent of men respectively.

And while majorities of both men and women favor stricter gun control laws, men are much more likely than women to say they oppose these measures.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 722 adults, interviewed by telepone July 13-14, 1999. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points based on the entire sample. The sampling error for subgroups is higher.

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The shooting rampage in Atlanta is the latest episode of large-scale gun violence. Click here to learn more about the role of guns in America.

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