Voter Approval Drops for Legislature, Gun Laws

April 23, 2014

DENVER — The Democratic state legislature and its signature gun-control laws are sinking in popularity with Colorado voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

The survey found that only 39 percent of Colorado voters polled support the 2013 gun-control laws, approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature with no Republican votes, while 56 percent oppose the measures.

Support for the gun-control laws is down from Feb. 5, when a Quinnipiac poll found that 43 percent of voters favored the measures while 52 percent opposed them.

Meanwhile, Colorado voters held a similarly low opinion of the Democrat-controlled state legislature, with only 34 percent saying they approve of its job performance and 51 percent saying they disapprove.

The approval figure is below the previous 10-month low. In June and November, 36 percent of voters polled said they approved of how the state legislature was handling its job.

What’s surprising is that this year’s legislative session has been less contentious than last year’s, which is often described as the most liberal in state history and featured monumental battles over gun control, election rules, and a doubling of the renewable energy mandate on rural Colorado.

The 2013 session touched off historic recall drives against two Democratic state senators, both of whom were removed from office in the Sept. 10 election. A third Democrat, former state Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Arvada) resigned in November before recall petitions could be submitted.

The latest poll found that 56 percent of Republicans disapprove of the state legislature while 56 percent of Democrats approve. Unaffiliated voters also disapprove of the legislature’s handling of its job by a margin of 38 to 47 percentage points.

Unaffiliated voters, a crucial voting bloc, were similarly unimpressed with the gun-control laws, opposing them by 58 to 38 percent.

“It’s the third of the state that’s unaffiliated or independent that really sways the election one way or the other,” said state Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “I think it [gun rights] is one of several issues that are winning issues for Republicans.”

Gun-control laws passed in 2013 restricted ammunition-magazine capacity to 15 rounds; mandated background checks on all firearms purchases and transfers, including private transfers, and required gun buyers to pay for their own background checks.

The poll found that voters oppose the magazine limit by a margin of 51 to 45 percentage points, but favor background checks for all gun buyers by 85 to 14 percent.

Colorado Democrats pushed the gun-control measures in reaction to two mass shootings in 2012, including a massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 dead.

The poll also found that voters favor by 50 to 45 percent allowing teachers and school officials to carry firearms on school grounds, and support metal detectors at school entrances by an overwhelming 74 to 20 percent margin.

“In large numbers, Colorado voters want metal detectors in the doorways of schools, and half of voters want teachers and school officials armed in the interest of keeping kids safe,” said Quinnipiac assistant polling director Tim Malloy in a statement.

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