FDU: Broad Support for Greater Gun Control Among Garden Staters 

New Jerseyans perceive women as being more emotional and men as more aggressive, but other views on gender have evolved, according to the latest poll results from the Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University Polling partnership.

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, October 31, 2019 – New Jersey residents support a wide array of measures to stop gun violence in society. The most recent statewide survey of New Jersey adults from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll finds Garden Staters nearly unanimous in their support for two measures – mandatory background checks no matter where the firearm is purchased, and increased funding for mental health services.

Overall, except for relaxing conceal and carry laws, New Jersey adults favor six out of seven gun control proposals. Moreover, support is broad and decisive.

Greater funding for mental health services
92%
Mandatory background checks on potential gun owners, no matter where they purchase their gun
92%
Laws that allow police to take away guns from people that a judge finds dangerous
82%
A nationwide ban on so-called assault weapons
67%
A nationwide ban on ammunition clips with more than ten bullets
66%
Using taxpayer dollars to only buy guns for police from companies that promote gun safety
58%
Relaxing so-called conceal and carry laws so that more people can carry guns
30%

More than nine-in-ten support greater funding for mental health services (92%) and mandatory background checks for all firearm purchases, no matter the location of the sale (92%). Not far behind these measures is support for laws that allow the removal of guns from those whom a judge deems dangerous (82%). Around two-thirds support a nationwide ban on assault weapons (67%) and ammunition clips with more than ten bullets (66%). Just more than half (58%) support a recent move by Governor Murphy to use the state’s buying power to both reward and punish firearm manufacturers for their gun safety procedures and practices. And, rounding out the list with the support of around a third (30%) are those who endorse relaxing so-called conceal and carry laws in order for more to carry guns.

“New Jersey is known for having some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. Taken as a whole, these numbers underscore the support that exists in the Garden State for policies that often set us apart from other states, as well as wish that others across the nation take a cue from New Jersey policymakers,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of government and politics and director of the FDU Poll. “For example, New Jersey is among a handful of states that ban ammunition clips with more than ten bullets and we’re seeing broad support for that measure when extended to the nation across all groups, save for Republicans.”

Greater funding for mental health services and mandatory background checks

Regarding mental health funding, the same question was asked in 2016. Since then, support for greater funding for mental health services has grown by almost twenty percentage points. In 2016, around three-fourths (73%) said more money for mental health services was a good idea to help curb gun violence whereas support today is 92 percent. Moreover, support for this measure is strong across a host of demographic categories, with both Republicans and Democrats embracing this idea in a bipartisan fashion. The same broad and unified support exists for mandatory background checks. Men and women, Democrats and Republicans, the young and old(er), and diverse racial and ethnic groups support universal checks regardless of where the gun was purchased.

The 92 percent of overall support among New Jersey residents for mandatory background checks is very close to what’s been observed nationally.

 Court ordered removal of guns from those deemed dangerous

Age, gender and partisanship all show significant differences over the issue of allowing a judge to deem someone too dangerous to own a gun, or so-called “red flag” laws. Although majorities in all of these groups favor this measure, Democrats break from Republicans in their near-unanimous support, as compared with about a third of independents and Republicans. And while those under the age of 30 support this idea, at least in principle, their support is not as strong as it is for everyone 30 and older, all of whom support the measure in numbers approaching or at 85 percent. Women (85%) are also more supportive of men (77%).

New Jersey’s 82 percent support is generally consistent with findings from national polls in recent months.

Banning assault weapons and limiting ammunition

Attitudes toward banning so-called assault weapons and limiting ammunition resonate significantly more with Democrats, women, and African Americans in New Jersey. Almost three-fourths of women (72%) support a nationwide ban on assault weapons, which are generally understood to be semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines, as compared with not even two-thirds of men (60%). Similar numbers distinguish women from men on the issue of limiting ammunition clips with more than ten bullets, something that New Jersey already does.

Big differences separate Democrats from Republicans on these measures. Around eight-in-ten Democrats agree with a nationwide assault weapons ban and limiting ammunition, while fewer than half of all Republicans offer their approval. Independents split the difference, with about two thirds who support both proposals.

And African Americans are more supportive than are whites and Hispanic respondents. Around three-quarters of black residents would like to see both measures instituted nationally with support among whites and Hispanics in the 60s.

The 67 percent support for an assault weapons ban and 66 percent support for limits on ammunition among New Jersey residents are both greater than what has been found nationally in recent months.

Using taxpayer dollars to only buy guns for law enforcement from pro-gun safety companies

Governor Murphy’s recent executive order to use the state’s buying power to do business with gun manufacturers who disclose their standards for preventing the fraudulent purchase of guns is supported more among senior citizens than those who are under the age of 65. And Democrats and whites are also more supportive relative to their respective comparison groups.

Relaxing conceal and carry laws

Finally, relaxing so-called conceal and carry laws, so that many more can carry firearms is widely opposed across all demographic groups. The only group that approaches even half support are Republicans, at 49 percent. Support for the measure is beneath what has been found nationally in recent years.

“Although New Jersey’s sapphire hue helps to explain some of the differences between Garden Staters and adults nationally, it’s also possible that our densely populated state has something to do with our attitudes on gun control. Garden Staters may be a little more supportive of laws restricting gun access given how close we are to our neighbors, many of whom we may not know all that well,” said Jenkins.

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted by live callers on both landlines and cellular phones between September 26 through October 2, 2019, with a scientifically selected random sample of 801 New Jersey adults, 18 or older. Persons without a telephone could not be included in the random selection process. Respondents within a household are selected by asking randomly for the youngest adult currently available. The interview was conducted in English and included 253 adults reached on a landline phone and 548 adults reached on a cell phone, all acquired through random digit dialing.

The data were weighted to be representative of the non-institutionalized adult population of New Jersey. The weighting balanced sample demographics to target population parameters. The sample is balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and phone use. The sex, age, education, race/ethnicity and region parameters were derived from 2017 American Community Survey PUMS data. The phone use parameter was derived from estimates provided by the National Health Interview Survey Early Release Program.

Weighting was done in two stages. The first stage of weighting corrected for different probabilities of selection associated with the number of adults in each household and each respondent’s telephone usage patterns. This adjustment also accounts for the overlapping landline and cell sample frames and the relative sizes of each frame and each sample. This first stage weight was applied to the entire sample which included all adults.

The second stage of the weighting balanced sample demographics to match target population benchmarks. This weighting was accomplished using SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis ensures that the demographic characteristics of the sample closely approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population.

Effects of Sample Design on Statistical Analysis

Post-data collection statistical adjustments require analysis procedures that reflect departures from simple random sampling. We calculate the effects of these design features so that an appropriate adjustment can be incorporated into tests of statistical significance when using these data. The so-called “design effect” or deff represents the loss in statistical efficiency that results from a disproportionate sample design and systematic non-response. The total sample design effect for this study is 1.27.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 801 New Jersey adults is +/-3.9 percentage points (including the design effect) at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus, if 50 percent of New Jersey adults in this sample favor a particular position, we would be 95 percent sure that the true figure is between 46.1 and 53.9 percent (50 +/- 3.9) if all New Jersey adults had been interviewed, rather than just a sample.

Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, or context effects.

This telephone survey was fielded by Braun Research, Inc. with sample from Dynata.

The sample was purchased from Marketing Systems Group and the research was funded by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

801 New Jersey Adults

Male    48%  N = 378 (+/-5%)

Female    52%  N = 423 (+/-5%)

18-29    17%  N = 143 (+/-8%)

30-49    36%  N = 264 (+/-6%)

50-64    26%  N = 196 (+/-7%)

65+    20%  N = 198 (+/-7%)

Democrat (with leaners)  46%  N = 370 (+/-5%)

Independent   27%  N = 196 (+/-7%)

Republican (with leaners) 27%  N = 220 (+/-7%)

White    58%  N = 534 (+/-4%)

Black    13%  N = 90 (+/-9%)

Hispanic   19%  N = 111(+/-9%)

Other    10%  N = 48 (+/-14%)

Likely voters   58%  N = 462 (+/-5%)

 

For the third time, the FDU Poll received an “A” rating from statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. The ratings measure both accuracy and bias for all major polling services in the United States, providing an update to similar research the poll watchers conducted in 2016. FDU’s “A” rating puts it in the top 18 of the 396 polling institutes reviewed and graded from A+ through F.

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