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High profile shootings don't change opinions

OPB poll shows that people maintain their beliefs on gun control regardless of incidents in the Northwest


Public opinion about gun control laws doesn’t appear to have shifted after two recent high-profile school shootings in the Northwest. That’s according to a new OPB poll conducted after deadly attacks at Reynolds High School and Seattle Pacific University.

In April, before both shootings, OPB conducted a phone survey of registered Oregon voters that asked opinions on gun control issues. It showed 76 percent of respondents would support a law requiring background checks for all gun purchases except for those between family members.

Now a new poll of Oregon residents, conducted after the shootings in late June, shows that public opinion hasn’t changed much.

On the same question about background checks, 77 percent say they’d support the idea — a statistically insignificant 1 percent increase, according to DHM pollster John Horvick.

“I’ve been looking at these gun control numbers whether Oregon or nationally for a number of years now and it’s remarkable how little events change public attitudes,” Horvick said. “If anything I think they tend to reinforce people’s pre-existing positions.”

Alysia Constantine is a stay-at-home mom in Chiloquin, a small town north of Klamath Falls. She said she has mixed feelings on gun ownership depending on the context.

“If it’s somebody that’s entering somebody’s house or property, trying to endanger their lives, then I agree that a gun may be needed in that kind of instance,” she said. “But to use it just to harm somebody, maybe for no reason, I don’t agree with that.”

Did the shootings at Reynolds High School and Seattle Pacific University change her opinion on guns and gun control?

“I don’t think so, no,” she said.

But there were some differences in the OPB poll findings from before and after the shootings.

Both polls asked whether people would support a law to prevent people with concealed weapons permits from bringing guns onto school grounds.

There was a slight increase in support, from 61 percent to 63 percent in the second poll. And the percentage of those opposed to the idea dropped from 35 percent to 28 percent.

“I wouldn’t read too much into those differences,” Horvick said.

He added, “Inevitably, there’’s going to be some movement across time, just with random variations. You know maybe the strong support and strong oppose is reflective of incidents. Although I suspect a more likely explanation is just random change over time.”

Horvick said the take-away message from the survey is that a clear majority of respondents would like to see a law preventing people from bringing concealed weapons onto school premises.

The poll contained a few more tidbits of information. It found that 42 percent of respondents feel the government doesn’t spend enough time and resources on gun control, while 35 percent say it spends too much.

Finally, 37 percent of respondents said they own a gun at home. Fifty-seven percent said they don’t.

The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 4.9 percent.




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