WASHINGTON— Here are some things to know about public opinion on gun laws from a new AP-GfK poll:
MORE FAVOR STRICTER LAWS
Fifty-eight of Americans now think gun laws should be made stricter, while 27 percent think they should be left as they are and 12 percent think they should be made less strict. That’s a slight shift since an AP-GfK poll conducted in December 2013, when 52 percent of Americans said gun laws should be made stricter.
Among Democrats, 8 in 10 want stricter gun laws, including nearly 6 in 10 who think they should be made much stricter.
By contrast, about 6 in 10 Republicans think gun laws should either be left as they are (41 percent) or made less strict (21 percent). Forty-six percent of moderate and liberal Republicans, along with 31 percent of conservative Republicans, support tightening gun laws.
Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that gun laws are a very or extremely important issue to them, 69 percent to 55 percent. Among all Americans, just under 6 in 10 call the issue very or extremely important.
Women are more likely than men to call gun laws an important issue, 64 percent to 53 percent, and to say gun laws should be made stricter, 66 percent to 50 percent.
FEWER SAY GUN LAWS INFRINGE ON RIGHTS
The new survey also finds 45 percent of Americans think laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the public’s right to bear arms, while slightly more — 51 percent — think they do not. That’s a slight shift since the 2013 poll, when 50 percent said gun laws do infringe on the public’s right to bear arms and 47 percent said they did not.
On this, too, there is a partisan split. Two-thirds of Republicans, but just a quarter of Democrats, think laws that limit gun ownership infringe on the right to bear arms. Independents are evenly split on the issue.
MOST DISAPPROVE OF OBAMA’S HANDLING
Six in 10 Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling gun laws, while fewer than 4 in 10 approve.
An overwhelming 9 in 10 Republicans say they disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue. Two-thirds of Democrats approve, but a significant minority — 35 percent — disapprove of his performance.
Three-quarters of Americans who live in gun-owning households disapprove of Obama on gun laws.
Americans are about equally divided over which party they trust to do a better job handling gun laws. Twenty-nine percent say they trust Republicans more and 27 percent trust Democrats, while 13 percent say they trust both equally. Thirty percent say they trust neither party on handling the issue.
People living in gun-owning households are more likely to trust Republicans than Democrats on handling guns, 45 percent to 17 percent. People in non-gun households are more likely to trust Democrats than Republicans, 34 percent to 19 percent.
ONE THIRD LIVE IN GUN HOUSEHOLDS
About a third of Americans — 37 percent — live in a household where at least one person owns a gun, the poll finds. That’s unchanged since 2013. Half of Republicans, but less than a third of Democrats or independents, live in households with guns.
More than half of those living in rural areas but just a third of those in suburban areas and a quarter of those in urban areas live in households with guns.
There’s a divide between residents of rural areas and those in more urban areas on the issue of stricter gun laws, too. Seven in 10 people living in urban areas and 6 in 10 of those living in suburban areas but just 4 in 10 of those living in rural areas think gun laws should be made stricter.
Two-thirds of people living in the Northeast think gun laws should be tightened, more than say so in any other region.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.