Vermonters generally support increased measures for controlling
access to firearms and ammunition, according to a recent poll
released Feb. 21 by the Castleton Polling Institute at Castleton
College. An overwhelming majority of Vermonters (84 percent)
favor requiring strict reporting from mental health professionals
to the national instant background check system (NICS); 44 percent
strongly favor such reporting. A majority of Vermonters polled
also support closing the gun show loophole (75 percent), banning
the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines (66 percent),
banning further sale of assault weapons (61 percent), and making it
illegal to own an assault rifle (54 percent).
Vermont gun owners are less supportive of gun control measures,
overall, than are those who do not own firearms. 50 percent of
all respondents to the poll report that they or someone in their
household owns a firearm of some type.
Respondents who have guns in the household are less supportive
of all restrictive measures, but still support requiring stricter
reporting by mental health professionals, closing the gun show
loophole, and restricting sale of high-capacity magazines. The
largest difference between gun owners and those who do not own guns
is on the question of making it illegal to own or possess assault
rifles - a difference of 30 percentage points.
While the differences between gun owners and those who do not
own guns appear fairly large, the differences between Democrats and
Republican respondents are even greater. On the issue of
making it illegal to own an assault rifle, Democrats' support for
the ban is 42 percentage points higher than that of their
Republican counterparts (87 percent compared with 45 percent,
respectively). In fact, the only measures that have majority
support among Republican respondents are the requirement for strict
reporting to NICS by mental health professionals (86 percent) and
closing the gun show loophole (61 percent).
Despite the powerfully emotional stories and images from
Newtown, Connecticut, only 19 percent of all respondents said that
the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School changed their views
about gun control.
90 percent of those who report changing their views (17 percent
of the total sample) say that they are now more likely to support
gun control measures; only 6 percent of those whose views were
changed (1 percent of the total sample) say that they are now less
likely to support gun control.
The data in this poll are based on 620 completed interviews, 130
of which were respondents reached by cell phone. The
interviews were conducted Feb. 6-17.
The Castleton Polling Institute will share findings related to
wind energy, health care, and cell phone use while driving on it's