The issue of gun control is brought into limelight after tragic events such as the Sandy Hook and recent massacre in Orlando. The stalemate over stricter gun control is usually pitched as a battle between red-state conservative Republicans versus blue-state liberal Democrats. However, opinion polls suggest otherwise.

Data from the General Social Survey shows the trends in public opinion on one aspect of gun control: a law requiring a police permit to buy guns.  Although there are systematic differences in opinion along party lines (and a growing disparity over time), a substantial majority of Republican voters favor such a law (even at its lowest point under the Obama presidency). Even within Gun Owners (Figure 2) one again finds that a majority of Republicans favor such a law (percentage drops below 50 only after second Obama term). Support for background checks (as opposed to police permit) is even higher. A recent recent polls shows that 82% of gun owners – including 74% of NRA members – support “requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun”[Luntz Global for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Gun Owners Poll, July 2012, (July 24, 2012)].

In a country where presidential elections rarely get decided by more that 1 or 2% points, this seems overwhelming public support for stricter laws–at least for background checks.