Majority of Americans Hold Incorrect Assumptions about Guns

Ipsos poll on behalf of NPR

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Julia Clark Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC —  In the latest Ipsos poll on behalf of NPR, a majority of Americans struggle with gun-related knowledge questions. Only 8% are able to answer 7 or more knowledge questions correctly, out of a total of 10. Americans’ misperceptions lie in the estimated number of guns per capita (21% correct), the decline in gun deaths (20% correct), and whether or not the U.S. regularly conducts research on gun deaths (29% correct).

As far as personal attitudes about guns are concerned, nearly half of Americans (45%) believe gun laws should be a lot more strict than they are today, with another quarter (23%) believing they should be somewhat more strict. A vast majority of Americans are also in favor of specific changes to gun policy. Over three quarters of Americans support a ban on assault-style weapons (79%), a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds (78%), and a ban on firearm attachments like bump stocks (82%).

Despite support for stricter policies related to guns, a majority of Americans say they have no problem with people owning guns generally (73%). However, half (51%) of Americans would not let their children play at a friend’s house if they knew they had guns in the household. Overall, Americans are relatively split on whether owning a gun makes them feel safer (52% agree), and whether the benefits of gun ownership outweigh the risks (53% agree).

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted October 10-11, 2017 on behalf of NPR. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 340 Democrats, 370 Republicans, and 186 Independents.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5).

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 8.2 percentage points for Independents. 

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can  download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Cliff Young
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

Julia Clark
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
j[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, the U.S., UK, and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Julia Clark Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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