Reuters/Ipsos Data: American Perceptions on Gun Control (02/08/2019)

A majority of Americans agree on many gun control policies, but many do not believe lawmakers will act this year on gun legislation.

The author(s)

  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, D.C. -  As the first anniversary of the deadliest high school shooting in American history – Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida - fast approaches, Ipsos conducted a poll on behalf of Thomson Reuters to better understand Americans’ perceptions of gun violence and policies to regulate gun ownership. Ipsos found that despite perceived major party differences on issues related to gun regulations, there is a lot more common ground on ideas and policies than one may be led to believe if just watching political pundits and listening to hardliners from either side of the aisle.

Eighty-five percent of Americans report being concerned over gun violence in the United States and 65% of parents are worried about sending their child to school because of gun violence. These concerns blur partisan lines: 95% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans are worried about gun violence and 73% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans worry about sending their children to school.

When it comes to perceptions about certain regulations, Republicans and Democrats are far more alike on major policy issues. While Democrats are more likely to say they believe that policies that would make it harder to own a gun would be a better approach to end gun violence in the U.S. (77%) than Republicans (41%), when it comes to actual policies that may be implemented, Democrats and Republicans report being in favor of policies that restrict or make it harder to own guns. Policies such as raising the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 (Democrats 82%, Republicans 63%), tracking gun sales through a federal data base (Democrats 90%, Republicans 73%), expanding background checks to include sales at gun shows and between private individuals (Democrats 92%, Republicans 78%), banning high-capacity ammunition clips (Democrats 84%, Republicans 58%), banning military-style assault weapons (Democrats 86%, Republicans 56%), and banning semi-automatic weapons (Democrats 79%, Republicans 49%) receive majority or near majority support from both parties. While Democrats are more likely to strongly support these measures, the numbers make it clear that there is room to compromise on gun legislation. Additionally, Democrats and Republicans are in consensus when it comes to banning people with a history of mental illness from buying a gun (Democrats 89%, Republicans 88%) and banning anyone on the “no-fly list” from buying a gun (Democrats 88%, Republicans 85%).

Democrats and Republicans do differ on the use of guns as deterrent or fail-safe in schools – just 31% of Democrats report being in favor of allowing school personnel to carry guns compared to three-quarters of Republicans (74%) and similar numbers support public funding for gun classes for teachers and school personnel (Democrats 41%, Republicans 77%). However, a majority of both Democrats (61%) and Republicans (85%) favor placing armed guards in schools.

Democrats and Republicans are also not confident that things will change this year when it comes to gun laws. Just about four in ten Democrats (38%) and Republicans (44%) are confident that their elected representatives understand their respective views on gun ownership, and fewer than one-third of Democrats (29%) and Republicans (30%) believe that their elected representatives will do something this year to improve gun laws in the United States. 

About this Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted for Thomson Reuters between January 11-28, 2019. For the survey, a sample of 6,813 Americans, including 2,701 Democrats, 2,359 Republicans, and 973 Independents ages 18+ were interviewed online. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points for all adults, 2.1 percentage points for Democrats, 2.3 percentage points for Republicans, and 3.6 percentage points for Independents. For more information about credibility intervals, please see the appendix.

The data were weighted to the U.S. current population data by gender, age, education, and ethnicity. 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. Figures marked by an asterisk (*) indicate a percentage value of greater than zero but less than one half of one per cent. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. To see more information on this and other Reuters/Ipsos polls, please visit

For more information on this news release please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

Annaleise Azevedo Lohr
Senior Account Manager, U.S.
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 €1,780.5 million in 2017.


The author(s)

  • Annaleise Azevedo Lohr Director, US, Public Affairs