RELEASE: Survey Shows Strong Veteran Support for Proposed Gun Law Changes
Washington, D.C. — With the Senate set to vote on a comprehensive gun-violence prevention bill, a new poll released today and commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and VoteVets.org leaves no doubt that veterans believe the president and Congress need to do something to address gun violence. The nationwide survey of 804 registered voters who are veterans of the military illustrates that veterans believe it is possible to strengthen the country’s gun laws while continuing to protect the right to bear arms.
“When you carry a gun in a war zone as I did, you come to understand the awesome responsibility and risk that comes with owning a firearm,” said former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and a veteran of the first Iraq War. “I cherish the right to bear arms here at home, but I also understand that with this right comes responsibility—especially the responsibility of comprehensive background checks so that we can keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill.”
“On the issue of gun violence, there is no daylight between what veterans believe and what the American public believes—specifically, that this is a crisis, and something needs to be done,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org. “The veterans we polled tend to identify as Republican and aren’t predisposed to disliking the NRA, and yet, their level of support for the major anti-gun-violence measures being proposed is extremely high. We’ve seen what assault weapons can do, up close and firsthand. Many of us even own weapons. And yet we recognize that reasonable measures to combat gun violence can be consistent both with the Second Amendment and protecting American lives.”
Key findings from the poll include:
- 85 percent of veterans believe it is important for national leaders in Washington, D.C., to address the issue of gun violence; 39 percent say it’s extremely important, 24 percent say it’s very important, and 22 percent say it’s somewhat important.
- The vast majority of veterans—85 percent—agree that, “We can protect responsible gun owners’ Second Amendment rights while still making it more difficult for criminals and other dangerous people to obtain guns.” This includes 43 percent who strongly agree.
- In addition, while veterans’ opinions of the National Rifle Association are somewhat split, there are more veterans with a favorable than an unfavorable view —43 percent favorable to 36 percent unfavorable.
Two of the four proposed changes to the country’s gun laws that are being considered on Capitol Hill receive near unanimous support and a high level of intensity among veteran voters.
- More than 9 in 10 veterans—91 percent—support requiring a criminal background check of every person who wants to buy a firearm, including 74 percent who strongly support it.
- Nearly all veterans—99 percent—support increasing criminal penalties for people convicted of illegally trafficking guns to criminals, including 91 percent who strongly support it.
The other proposed changes to the country’s gun laws are also supported by a strong majority of veteran voters.
- More than 6 in 10 veterans—61 percent—support banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, including 45 percent who strongly support it.
- Nearly 6 in 10 veterans—58 percent—support banning assault-style weapons, including 40 percent who strongly support it.
Today at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), former Rep. Murphy, and Soltz stood with fellow veterans from across the country to discuss the new survey and to call on Congress to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
“As today’s study shows, America’s heroes who have carried guns in defense of our nation overwhelmingly agree that it’s time for Congress to act to reduce gun violence; I’m one of them,” said Rep. Thompson. “As a Vietnam veteran, hunter, and gun owner, I know that we can keep guns from criminals and the dangerously mentally ill, and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. The best way to do this is by expanding background checks. Background checks are the first line of defense against guns getting in the hands of those we all agree shouldn’t have them.”
- “What the Public Really Thinks About Guns” (CAP)
- “America Under the Gun: A 50-State Analysis of Gun Violence and Its Link to Weak State Gun Laws” (CAP)
To speak with experts on this issue, please contact Katie Peters at email@example.com or 202.741.6285.