DENVER — A newly released poll shows Gov. John Hickenlooper is losing ground with the public on his handling of firearms policy even as the issue gains importance for voters.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that voters ranked gun policy second on a list of issues, trailing only the economy and running ahead of education, but that their confidence in the Democratic governor’s handling of the firearms issue is declining.
Of those surveyed, 54 percent said they disapprove of how the governor is managing gun issues, while just 31 percent approve. That’s a drop from August, when the same poll found 52 percent disapproved and 35 percent approved of his firearms policy.
Voters also said they oppose 52 to 43 percent the state’s stricter new gun-control laws, which were signed by Hickenlooper in March over strong Republican opposition and led to the recalls of two Democratic state senators.
“A Quinnipiac University poll released this morning confirms what gun owners already know – that gun control will be a major issue in the 2014 elections,” said a statement posted Wednesday on the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Facebook page.
Republicans clearly see the firearms issue as a major weakness for Hickenlooper in the November election. Top Republicans seeking the gubernatorial nomination have come out strongly against the gun-control bills.
The survey also found that voters back 50 to 45 percent the idea of allowing teachers and school officials to carry firearms at school as a safety precaution. What’s more, voters agree by 47 to 39 percent that arming teachers “would do more to reduce gun violence in schools than stricter gun laws.”
“Coloradans don’t think much of where Gov. Hickenlooper comes down on guns and think more guns in schools might be a better answer,” said Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director.
Asked which issue was the most important for them, 12 percent of voters said the economy, followed by 10 percent who said “gun issues/policy/control” and 9 percent who identified education.
The poll also said voters disapprove of the governor’s handling of the death penalty by 36 to 28 percent, while they approve of his handling of the economy by 53 to 37 percent.
Hickenlooper was widely criticized last year for granting an indefinite reprieve of execution to Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap.
Pollsters at Quinnipiac University in Camden, Conn., surveyed 1,139 registered Colorado voters by phone from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.