Despite State's Reputation, Survey Finds Bipartisan Support For Tighter Gun Laws in Texas

While there was some consensus among Democrats and Republicans surveyed, there was a generational divide in opinion on tighter gun laws, with Millennials more likely to support them than Boomers.
While there was some consensus among Democrats and Republicans surveyed, there was a generational divide in opinion on tighter gun laws, with Millennials more likely to support them than Boomers. Photo by iStrfry , Marcus on Unsplash
A recent survey conducted by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University found that Texans overwhelmingly support tighter gun control.

Eight of 10 people surveyed said they supported a ban on gun ownership by anyone under a restraining order for stalking or domestic violence. About 78% of people said they were in favor of criminal background checks of gun buyers with no exception for gun shows or private sales. Most people surveyed, 74%, also said judges should be able to take guns away from people who are a threat to themselves or others. About 71% of people said they’d support raising the legal age for purchasing an assault rifle to 21, instead of the current age requirement of 18.

It also didn’t seem to matter whether the participant was a Republican, Democrat or independent.

“Despite Texas’ reputation as a gun loving state, Texans across the board support gun safety proposals at the state level as well as many of the main provisions passed through the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” René Cross, one of the report’s researchers, said in a press release. “While debates about the balance between Second Amendment rights and gun safety will continue to flare, the survey provides no doubt there are areas of consensus.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was passed in the Senate and signed into law in June. It was passed in response to school mass shootings, like the one in Uvalde earlier this year. Among other things, it provides $1 billion in funding to improve safety at schools across the country. The month before the law was passed, an 18-year-old who legally bought two assault rifles and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition shot up Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killing 19 students and two teachers in the South Texas town.

People were a little more divided when it came to waiting periods for assault rifle purchases, as well as complete bans on the sale and ownership of the weapons. About 69% said they supported the waiting periods. This included 85% of the survey’s Democrats, 62% of independents and 54% of the surveyed Republicans.

A little more than half of the people surveyed, 55%, said they supported a complete ban on the sale of assault rifles. Most of the people who supported the sales ban were Democrats. A more stark political divide can be seen in who supports a total ban on owning assault rifles. About 29% of surveyed Republicans said they supported the ban, compared with 81% of Democrats and 49% of independents in support.

But there was a bigger divide in opinion when it came to gender. Texas women were “significantly more likely” to support the gun control measures when compared with men in the state.

The two universities responsible for the report surveyed more than 2,100 Texans late last month. The report is part of a five-year project called Texas Trends that is meant to track changes in opinions and policy preferences as the state’s population changes.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn