DENVER – A plurality of voters say they trust Democrats over Republicans when it comes to gun control — while Republicans earn a slight edge among voters who do not identify with either major party, according to a recent Rasmussen poll.
The findings come days after President Obama signaled support for new gun restrictions that one Senate Democrat has characterized as “extreme.”
When asked which political party they trusted more to handle the issue of gun control, 43 percent of respondents said they trusted the Democrats more, while 40 percent said they put more trust in Republicans. Another 17 percent said they weren’t sure.
Political independents and those who did not identify themselves with either major political party, however, said they trusted Republicans over Democrats on the issue by a slim 39 to 37 percent edge. Nearly a quarter – 24 percent – said they weren’t sure.
The survey results also revealed a gender gap on the issue. Men trusted Republicans over Democrats by a wide 49 to 37 percent margin, while women favored Democrats over Republicans by an even wider 49 to 32 percent margin.
Voters also split along racial lines in the poll. White voters said they trusted Republicans over Democrats on the issue of gun control by a slim six point edge (45 percent to 39 percent), while black respondents preferred Democrats over Republicans by a margin of more than 2 to 1 (58 percent to 26 percent).
Respondents who were not identified as black or white in the survey also said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans, 51 percent to 29 percent. But one in five – 20 percent – said they were unsure.
In addition, the survey results suggested that Republicans enjoy an edge with many lower and middle income voters on the issue of gun control. Those making between $20,000 and $40,000 per year said they trusted Republicans over Democrats (41 percent to 38 percent), as did those making between $40,000 and $60,000 (44 percent to 43 percent).
Democrats, on the other hand, fared well with many higher income earners on the question. Those making between $60,000 and $75,000 said they trusted Democrats over Republicans (47 percent to 40 percent) to handle gun control. Among those making between $75,000 and $100,000, the margin was even wider, with respondents preferring Democrats over Republicans by a more than 2 to 1 margin (65 percent to 31 percent).
President Obama has signaled his support for stricter gun regulations in recent days, including a re-instatement of the so-called assault weapons ban.
According to Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post, “Other measures under consideration include regulations that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.”
Critics have argued that such gun-free zones create easy targets for deranged gunmen, and that measures like the assault weapons ban are based largely on cosmetic differences in firearms rather than operational characteristics, treating guns that fire the same ammunition and share similar operating capabilities differently.
“We should concentrate on finding solutions that work,” said State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “I’m afraid, however, that extremists will draw everyone into discussions of more of the failed gun control policies of the past, creating acrimony instead of an environment of thoughtful problem solving.”
At least one Democrat also questioned the plan.
On Sunday, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week “I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the [Obama] administration – and if the Washington Post is to be believed – that’s way — way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about,” said Heitkamp. “And it’s not going to pass.”
The Rasmussen poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters on January 2, 2013, and has a margin of error of + / – 3 percentage points.