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CBS Poll: The Gender Gap On Guns

CBS Poll: The Gender Gap On Guns

  • Women More Supportive Than Men On Gun Control
  • Having Children Makes Little Difference
  • 7 In 10 Men And Women Want Stricter U.S. Gun Laws
  • (CBS) The Million Mom March reflects long-term gender differences on issues of gun control, differences which are seen in the results of a new CBS News/New York Times Poll.

    Women are far more supportive than men on every suggested gun control measure asked about in this poll. However, women with children at home are not any more supportive of gun restrictions than are women as a whole.

    Gender differences on the subject of guns range from gun ownership to how the sexes view the two major presidential candidates on gun issues.

    Men are much more likely than women to own guns themselves, and men have a more favorable view of the National Rifle Association than women do.

    The genders also differ on which presidential candidate - Vice President Al Gore or Texas Governor George W. Bush -- they agree with more on the subject of gun control.


    Seven in ten Americans say they would like the laws covering handguns to be made more strict in general, though it's not clear whether that means more laws, more enforcement or harsher punishment for gun crime. And on two types of gun controls, an assault weapons ban and child safety locks, public support is extremely high. Sixty-seven percent of Americans favor a nationwide assault weapons ban, and 84% favor requiring gun manufacturers to install child safety locks on guns.

    Women support each of these measures by a higher proportion than men do. More than nine in ten women favor requiring child safety locks on hand guns. On all these questions, it makes little difference whether women currently have children at home or not.

    CBSNEWS Charts


      Total Men Women
    Handgun laws should be more strict71%62%78%

    Favor nationwide assault weapon ban 67%63%71%

    Require child safety locks on handguns84%76%91%
    CBSNEWS Charts

    Even majorities of gun owners favor an assault weapons ban and child safety locks. However, gun owners divide on whether handgun laws should be more strict than they are now. 51% of gun owners say that, but 49% say laws should remain as they are or be made less strict than they are now.

    Men are three times more likely than women to own a gun. 47% of men interviewed in this poll say they own their own gun, while just 15% of women do.


    Women and mehave far different views about the National Rifle Association, causing public opinion overall about that organization to be evenly divided. 45% of the public have a favorable view of the N.R.A., while 43% are unfavorable. 55% of men have a favorable opinion of the organization, but only 37% of women do.

    CBSNEWS Charts


      Total Men Women

    CBSEWS Charts

    Positive views of the N.R.A. had risen somewhat in the wake of a public relations campaign that organization conducted after the shootings last April at Columbine High School. In this poll, favorable opinions have declined somewhat. However, gun owners remain extremely positive about the organization, with 66% of gun owners expressing a favorable opinion and just 28% having an unfavorable view.

    More Americans expect that the N.R.A. will have a lot of influence over George W. Bush if he is elected president in the fall than say that will be the case if Al Gore is elected. Even so, most say that the National Rifle Association will have at least some impact on a Gore presidency.

    CBSNEWS Charts


      Bush Gore
    A lot 28%12%


    CBSNEWS Charts

    But those who have a negative view of the N.R.A. are twice as likely as those who like the association to think the N.R.A. would play a major role in a potential Bush presidency. 40 % of those with a negative view of the N.R.A. say it will have a lot of impact on Bush if he is elected, while just 20 % of those with a favorable view of the N.R.A. think that will be the case. There is no such difference in assessments of a potential Gore presidency.


    Fewer Americans cite guns as the issue they most want government to take action on than name things like education, health care and taxes -- that has been the case for a long time. Potential voters are split on which candidate, Bush or Gore, they agree with more on gun-related matters. 35% of voters say they agree more with Gore's views on gun related issues, while 37% agree more with Bush's views.

    As seen throughout this poll, there are gender differences. Men (as well as gun owners) give Bush the edge on gun issues, while women agree more with Gore's views. But registered women voters are far less sure than men voters about which candidate they agree with more on this matter.

    CBSNEWS Charts


      Total Men Women


    Not sure25%15%33%
    CBSNEWS Charts

    Women with children at home, a group that is generally less Democratic than all women, currently give Bush an edge on this issue. But 41% of them aren't sure yet which candidate they agree with.

    This poll was conducted May 10-13, 2000, among a nationwide random sample of 947 adults interviewed by telephone. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

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