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How Party and Gun Ownership Impact Attitudes on Gun Control
Daniel Cox, Joanna Piacenza,

President Obama is set to announce executive action on gun control that will expand mandatory background checks for gun purchases in the U.S. The move set off a round of criticism from Republicans even before details of the plan were released. Previous findings have shown stark party divisions on gun control before, but how does gun ownership influence support for gun control measures?


Overall, Americans who live in gun-owning households express less support for passing stricter gun control laws than those who do not (42 percent vs. 73 percent, respectively), according to a 2013 PRRI survey.

Party identification is a critical factor influencing views on gun control laws, but there are also important differences between Americans who own firearms and those who do not. Only about one in four (23 percent) Republicans in a gun-owning household favor measures that would tighten regulations for firearm purchases. In contrast, more than four in ten (42 percent) Republicans in households without firearms express support for more gun control measures.

The same gap is also evident among Democrats. Democrats in gun-owning households (70 percent) express lower—albeit still robust—support for passing stricter gun control laws than Democrats in households without a gun owner (91 percent). Notably, Democrats in a gun-owning household (70 percent) are much more likely than Republicans in non-gun-owning households (42 percent) to support stricter gun laws.


Republicans are more likely than Democrats to personally own a gun or have a gun in the household. More than one-third (35 percent) of Republicans personally own a gun, while a majority (55 percent) say there is one in the household. Only 21 percent of Democrats own a gun, and less than one-third (32 percent) report having a firearm in their house.