Most New Jerseyans don’t view gun violence as a pressing issue, but they still fear falling victim to it, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Wednesday.
The poll found 23% of residents were very worried — 28% said they were somewhat worried — about gun violence affecting them or someone they know. Roughly equal portions of respondents, 22% and 27% respectively, said they were not too worried or not worried at all about the same.
“While New Jerseyans as a whole may not view gun violence as a major problem, it is a very real and significant concern for certain groups in the state,” Eagleton Poll Director Ashley Koning said. “Experience with and concerns about gun violence are more prevalent among black residents, lower income residents, less educated residents, and those who live in urban areas.”
Despite the fears, a majority of residents said gun violence was a small problem or not a problem in their communities. Twenty-two percent held the former view, while 44% held the latter view.
Of the remaining third, 20% said gun violence was a big problem and 12% said it was somewhat of a problem.
Those results changed drastically when broken down along racial and socioeconomic lines. Black respondents were three times as likely to say guns were a big problem than white residents were, 43%-15%. Twenty-three percent of Hispanic residents said gun violence was a big problem.
The poll also found black and Hispanic residents were more likely than white residents to be worried about future gun violence, possible because 32% of black and 28% of Hispanic residents said they had been affected or knew someone who had been affected by gun violence in the past 12 months, as compared to 11% of white residents.
The poll found most New Jersey parents, 65%, are having conversations with their children about the possibility of a school shooting. A roughly equal number, 63%, supported putting armed guards in K-12 schools, with 41% strongly supporting the proposal.
Despite that, 68% of residents opposed arming teachers and school administrators, with a majority of respondents, 54% strongly opposing the measure. Twenty-nine percent of respondents told pollsters they backed arming teachers, with 17% avowing strong support.
New Jerseyans were about evenly split on whether having a gun in the home increases safety, with 39% saying it does and 40% saying it does not.
“Research tells us that people with guns in the home are at a greater risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide regardless of storage practices, the number of guns or type of guns kept in the home,” said Michael Ostermann, co-director of Rutgers’ Center on Gun Violence Research. “Police records that communicate defensive gun uses, on the other hand, are often not reported — making estimates of the impact of self-protective gun use elusive.
“Existing studies from the Harvard School of Public Health estimate the probability of gun-owning households using a gun against a home intruder to be rare events, with one defensive gun use per year against an intruder for every 3,500 homes that keep guns.”
The poll has a sample size of 1,008 New Jersey Residents who were contacted on cell phones or landlines. The poll’s margin of error is 3.5%.Rutgers-Eagleton Poll - Center on Gun Violence Research - Full Release - 4.23.19 - FINAL EMBAROGED PDF