Floridians overwhelmingly desire changes to several gun laws, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, but what they want and what their legislators are willing to do appear to be on different paths.
According to the poll, the most resounding support surrounded the prospect of requiring background checks for all gun purchases (96% in favor) and banning gun ownership for anyone who’s been issued a restraining order for stalking or violence (92% in favor).
With March 9, the last day of the state Legislature’s session, approaching, lawmakers have tackled gun control measures at a breakneck pace since the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
With students, parents and their supporters canvassing the Capitol over the last week, senators and representatives have demonstrated an openness to enact certain laws, and a staunch reluctance to entertain others.
After each body’s appropriations committees met Tuesday, the state House and Senate now have in their hoppers bills that would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, to allow police to confiscate firearms in the event of threats, to require a waiting period for gun purchases and to create a voluntary program that would arm teachers and other trained faculty.
The committees declined, however, to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and though a move to ban bump stocks didn’t make it through Senate Appropriations, the House committee OK’d the measure. The Senate committee also declined to create a firearms registry and to require that only licensed dealers could privately sell firearms, while the House committee decided against requiring mental health background checks for those licensed to carry.
While several citizens spoke in defense of the Second Amendment at Tuesday’s hearings, many young people, including students from Parkland, parents and ordinary Floridians pleaded with lawmakers for change.
“We need each of you to step away from politics and reach in as parents and grandparents,” said Max Schachter, whose lost his son Alex in the school shooting. “Let’s get something done today. … You owe it to me.”
Here is what Schachter and his fellow Floridians want, according to Quinnipiac’s survey of 1,156 voters in the state:
Stricter gun laws, period
It’s no surprise, but Democrats led the charge here with 87% approving (opposed to 43% of Republicans). Other demographics heavily in favor of stiffer laws include voters under 35 (72%), women (76%), blacks (77%) and Hispanics (73%).
Folks with guns in their homes were slightly in favor (49%, compared to 42% who oppose), while 63% of voters with kids in public school said gun laws should be beefed up.
Background checks for ALL gun buyers
While Florida requires background checks in certain cases, residents want a background check every time. That goes for 96% of voters. No demographic came in lower than 91% on this one.
Nationwide ban on assault weapons
Women (75%), Democrats (86%) and voters older than 64 (76%) were most resoundingly in favor of this measure, while 62% of voters as a whole liked the idea. There was less support among Republicans (40%), white men (44%) and voters with guns in their homes (43%), and parents with kids in public school were only marginally in favor (49% to 46%). Rural residents barely approved it (48% to 47%).
Pollsters registered less support on the matter of banning semiautomatic rifles, with 53% of voters in approval.
Nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines
Like the assault weapons ban, 62% of voters approve a measure to ban clips that hold more than 10 bullets, with Democrats (85%), women (75%), blacks (74%) and seniors (72%) most in favor.
Mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases
This was another popular notion, corralling support among 87% of voters. The lowest level of support came from white men (81%). A mandatory waiting period for assault rifles saw similarly stro