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N.J. residents divided on gun safety issues, poll says

Nearly every New Jerseyan is concerned about mass shootings, but state is divided on new laws vs. gun owner rights

By David Wildstein, September 22 2022 9:50 am

Nearly all New Jerseyans – 92% — are concerned over mass shootings across the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they all support stricter gun laws, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released on Thursday.

The state is divided over protecting the rights of gun owners, with 46% of the state saying that the government should set controls over gun ownership and 30% think the priority ought to be defending the Second Amendment.

The numbers change based on party affiliation: 71% of Democrats want to create new gun safety policies, while Republicans, by a 49%-33% margin, prefer to protect the rights of New Jersey gun owners.  Among independents, 41% want to create new gun policies and 33% want to

But when the Rutgers-Eagleton poll rephrases the question as  “policies that limit who can access certain types of firearms or require firearms to be stored in certain ways,” the number shifts to 50%-27%, with 18% saying the government should do both.

One-in-four state residents mention mental health issues as a primary cause of gun violence, and New Jerseyans support increased mental health funding and a ban on AR-15s as ways of preventing mass shootings.

Neary six-in-ten New Jersey residents (59%) believe the federal laws regulating firearm ownership ought to be stricter, while 12% say they should be less strict and 13% view them as “about right.”

“New Jerseyans’ high concern over gun violence in the United States has remained relatively stable over the past decade, but residents’ once overwhelming preference for control over ownership has eroded,” said Ashley Koning director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers.  “Yet reframing the politically charged language of ‘gun control’ narrows the initially stark partisan divide and actually more than doubles the preference for limitations on gun access among Republicans.”

The state is divided on other gun issues: 54% say there would be less mass shootings if obtaining firearms was made more difficult, while 35% believe it would make no difference.

And 37% of New Jersey residents think easing up on restrictions to buy guns would mean an increase of crime while 27% say there would be less.

“Gun laws and gun violence are important issues for voters in the upcoming midterm elections,” stated Koning.   “While concern over gun violence is widespread, Democrats, women, and younger adults are all more likely than their counterparts to weigh firearm limitations and requirements as more important than firearm rights and to take negative stances on firearm related issues, in general.”

The poll was conducted between July 18-27 with a sample size of 1,018 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3.8%.

Rutgers poll guns 2022
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