Majority of voters support assault weapons ban, buybacks: poll

A majority of voters support banning assault-style weapons in the wake of a string of mass shootings over the summer, according to a new Hill-HarrisX survey released on Thursday.

The nationwide survey found 69 percent of registered voters support banning assault-style weapons, compared to 31 percent who oppose such a move.

The move to ban assault-style weapons found strong divisions across party lines.

Eighty-four percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents support an assault weapons ban. Just over half — 51 percent — of Republicans also support it.

Voters also voiced strong support for voluntary and mandatory buyback programs.

Seventy-six percent backed a voluntary gun buyback program, compared to 12 percent who opposed such a proposal.

When broken down by party, 87 percent of Democrats support such a program, as do 73 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans.

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed support taking it one step further and implementing a mandatory buyback program. Forty-one percent are against the idea.

Democrats voiced the strongest support for a mandatory buyback program at 82 percent, while 51 percent of independents said the same. Just 39 percent of Republicans agreed.

The survey comes amid a nationwide gun debate that was reignited after the recent shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Following a mass shooting that affected his own hometown of El Paso, former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for a mandatory buyback program for assault rifles such as AR-15s.

O’Rourke defended his plan during the third Democratic primary debate in Houston last month, where he said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

His stance has drawn criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leaders Charlies Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that he “doesn’t know of any other Democrats who agrees” with O’Rourke’s proposal to confiscate assault-style weapons.

Democrats have been pushing the Republican-controlled Senate to take up legislation they passed earlier this year to expand background checks for gun purchases to include private sales, a move which also found majority support in Thursday’s Hill-HarrisX poll.

Thursday’s Hill-HarrisX poll showed that 88 percent of voters support background checks on all gun sales, including purchases at gun shows and over the internet. Another 12 percent oppose such a requirement.

HarrisX researchers surveyed 1,000 registered voters between Sept. 20 and Sept. 21. The margin of error is plus of minus 3.1 percentage points.

—Tess Bonn