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Poll: Californians’ views on gun control unchanged by San Bernardino attack

Jerry Brown says other states offer 'giant back door' for terrorists

California Gov. Jerry Brown, arriving in France for climate talks on Dec. 5, 2015 after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, says “wide open” gun laws in Nevada and Arizona are a “gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”
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California Gov. Jerry Brown, arriving in France for climate talks on Dec. 5, 2015 after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, says “wide open” gun laws in Nevada and Arizona are a “gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

The terrorist attacks in San Bernardino last month had little, if any, effect on Californians’ views on gun control, with the electorate continuing to favor stricter measures by about the same margin they’ve held for more than a decade, according to a new poll.

The Field Poll, released Tuesday, comes after a mass shooting that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded at a social services center in Southern California.

Fifty-seven percent of California voters say greater controls on gun ownership are more important than protecting gun rights, in line with three Field Poll measures between 1999 and 2002. Support for stricter gun controls ticked up slightly, to 61 percent, in the months after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

Though views on broad questions of gun control are highly partisan, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, a large, bipartisan majority of Californians favor proposals to require anyone buying ammunition to undergo a background check and to ban people on the federal government’s “no-fly” list from purchasing guns.

Eighty percent of registered voters in the state favor the background-check proposal, and 75 percent support the “no-fly” list prohibition, according to the poll. Majorities not only of Democrats but also Republicans favor both proposals.

“What’s striking is that a majority of Republicans, even though philosophically they’re against putting greater restrictions on guns, they back two proposals,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

What’s striking is that a majority of Republicans, even though philosophically they’re against putting greater restrictions on guns, they back two proposals.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll

Candice Carlon, a Republican from Idyllwild who generally opposes expanding gun control measures, said that if carefully implemented, the background check and no-fly proposals are “reasonable.”

“It makes sense,” the 59-year-old poll respondent said.

 

Two other proposals, one to outlaw the possession of large-capacity magazines and the other to expand the definition of California’s assault weapons ban, are supported by a narrower majority of voters – and opposed by most Republicans. Various gun control measures are under consideration in the Legislature and for the November ballot.

Ann Lizarraga, a 56-year-old Republican from Temecula, said the attack in San Bernardino has made her think about buying a gun for self defense. Lizarraga, a poll respondent and businesswoman, said she fears stricter gun control measures will only hurt law-abiding people and that criminals will get weapons regardless of the laws enacted.

“We become more susceptible and vulnerable,” she said.

Fifty-four percent of California voters say stronger gun laws are somewhat or very effective at reducing violent crime, according to the poll, while 44 percent say they are not too effective or aren’t effective at all.

Women are more likely than men to support gun control measures. And higher percentages of Latino, black and Asian voters support gun control than do Californians overall.

Gwendolyn Humphries, a 65-year-old speech pathologist from Victorville, said she doubted stricter gun laws would have made a difference in the attack in San Bernardino.

But in general, the independent voter said, “I just really believe that guns should be more controlled. You know, I do not believe that people should be able to just get guns as easily as they can right now.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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