PPP Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Guns in Places of Worship, Continued Support for Background Checks

Americans, by 3-to-1 margin, oppose flying the Confederate flag over government buildings

Washington, D.C.A new Public Policy Polling poll commissioned for the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that most Americans view last week’s massacre at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, as a hate crime and support steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, as well as removing the Confederate flag from government buildings such as the South Carolina state capitol grounds. Only 7 percent of Americans think last week’s shooting was neither a hate crime nor a terrorist attack, even as some candidates and elected officials dance around these important, action-inducing distinctions.

“Americans continue to strongly support actions aimed at curtailing the devastating gun violence ripping through our communities on a painfully regular basis,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President of Guns and Crime Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “After yet another mass shooting, this time a racially motived massacre in a historic African American church, we are once again presented with the urgency of needing to act to protect all of our communities from gun violence.”

Some 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun sales, and 74 percent believe places of worship should have the choice to keep guns off their property.

“Americans continue to show overwhelming support for policies such as background checks for all gun purchases,” said Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling. “That urgency remains clear after last week’s incident, only underscoring support for keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.”

The survey showed that:

  • 74 of Americans believe places of worship should have the right to bar people from carrying guns on their property.
  • 69 percent view last week’s massacre as a hate crime, with 90 percent saying race played some role, including 56 percent who say race played a dominant role in the shooting. Only 7 percent say the shooting was neither a hate crime nor terrorism.
  • As they have for some time, 90 percent of Americans support criminal background checks for all gun sales, and two-thirds think we should focus more on keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous or mentally ill people. Seventy-four percent think Dylan Roof’s previous criminal charge should have prevented him from accessing a gun.
  • Only 1-in-5 Americans support flying the Confederate flag at government buildings, as the debate over the flag flying at the South Carolina state capitol stands central to conversation around Charleston.

The national poll of 636 registered voters was conducted June 19 to 20, 2015.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Benton Strong at 202-481-8142 or bstrong@americanprogressaction.org.