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Baldwin Wallace University poll finds broad support for new gun laws in Ohio

Dr. Lauren Copeland and students review survey numbersA survey of Ohioans, conducted by Baldwin Wallace University's Community Research Institute (CRI), found broad support for new measures to regulate the sale of firearms with three quarters of registered voters in favor of raising the minimum age to buy semiautomatic rifles to 21 and establishing mandatory waiting periods to purchase a gun.

The statewide survey was conducted as a faculty-mentored project in a research methods course, under the direction of Dr. Lauren Copeland, associate director of BW CRI and assistant professor of political science.

Copeland says both the February Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and the subsequent call for "common sense gun laws" by Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich moved students to add the series of questions to their survey conducted between February 28 and March 9.

"One of our challenges was to design questions that present clear policy choices and to avoid emotional triggers on gun control and the Second Amendment," said Copeland. "My students, who come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences with firearms, including a U.S. Marine veteran, were involved every step of the way."

Surprising levels of support

Ohio CRI survey - support for gun laws bar graphThe class was surprised to find every major gun policy proposal in the survey enjoyed broad majority support. Women were more likely to favor the measures, as were Democrats. But Republicans backed the proposals by margins of 50 to 92 percent.

The questions also allowed survey respondents to choose "neither support/oppose," so the proposal with the least overall support, a ban on semiautomatic weapons, was opposed by just one in four Ohioans surveyed (27%).

"There was almost no partisan difference on a mandatory waiting period for gun purchases," noted Michael Brown '18, a national security and political science double major, as the class dissected the results this week. Sustainability major, Lydia Maendel '18, added, "It makes you wonder if this is an issue where Republicans and Democrats can come together to enact policy change."

"Maybe people are starting to say, 'enough is enough; we're ready for this,'" added political science major Ian Anderson '18.

Thumbs down to arming teachers

CRI Ohio - keeping schools safe bar graphWith about 68 percent of parents polled either 'very concerned' or 'somewhat concerned' about the threat of a mass shooting in their child's school, all survey participants were asked to choose which measures might do more to reduce gun violence in schools.

The top pick, at about 68 percent, was the use of metal detectors in schools, followed by 60 percent supporting the use of armed guards. About half (49.5%) said stricter gun laws will keep schools safe and just a quarter (27%) selected arming teachers among the best ideas.

Ranking six initiatives

For the series of questions about specific policies, overall results were:

  • 91% of Ohioans would support a statewide ban on the sale of guns to people who have been convicted of violent crimes.
  • About 75% of Ohioans would support a statewide initiative to raise the minimum age for purchasing a semiautomatic rifle from age 18 to 21.
  • About 74% of Ohioans would support a mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases in Ohio, so that everyone who purchases a gun must wait a certain number of days before taking the gun home.
  • About 68% of Ohioans would support a statewide ban on equipment, such as bump stocks, that can make a semiautomatic gun work more like an automatic gun.
  • 62% of Ohioans would support a statewide ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before they need to be reloaded.
  • About 61% of Ohioans would support a statewide ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of high-powered rifles capable of semiautomatic fire, such as the AR-15.

One issue among many

The CRI poll included questions on a variety of issues and students are still digging into the data. CRI recently released topline results on several regional and statewide issues for media use.

Students are continuing to evaluate each module of the data and will present a variety of findings at BW's April Ovation Festival, the University's spring showcase of student work and achievement.

Topline Data with Methodology

Access a pdf of the Ohio guns survey topline data, with statement of methodology.

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