Most Utahns support background checks on gun sales, but aren’t convinced more gun laws would stop mass shootings

Nine out of 10 Utahns support government requiring background checks on ALL gun sales, a new poll finds.

That would require checks on personal sales of weapons at gun shows, even background checks by individuals selling their guns to other individuals, a new survey by Dan Jones & Associates finds.

However, only about a third of Utahns say such blanket background checks may have had an impact on preventing the terrible mass shooting recently on the Las Vegas strip and in a Texas church.

Utah does have background checks at gun shows made by licensed firearm dealers.

But private individuals currently attend such shows and sell guns and don’t have to conduct such background checks (although some do.)

There is no requirement to conduct background checks in private individual-to-individual sales.

The Utah Legislature convenes Monday for its annual 45-day legislative session. It is unclear if there will be any bills proposed that would require greater background checks – although the new poll shows there is clearly public support for it.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert has an impressive 70 percent approval rating, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.

And the GOP-controlled Legislature has a remarkable 62 percent approval rating – very high for such an amorphous political body.

If there was a time to take on the gun lobby, following such horrendous mass gun killings in recent years, this might be it.


Some of Jones’ numbers:

  • Among all Utahns, 89 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” support requiring background checks “on all gun purchases.”
  • 9 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose such universal checks.
  • And 2 percent don’t know.

Asked if stricter gun control laws could have prevented the recent mass killings in Vegas and Texas:

  • 32 percent said “definitely” or “probably.”
  • 65 percent said no, the killings would have likely happened anyway.
  • And 3 percent didn’t know.

Jones found huge majorities of Utahns support universal background checks on gun purchases:

  • 86 percent of men support such checks, while 93 percent of women do.
  • 87 percent of Republicans support broader checks on gun sales.
  • 97 percent of Democrats do.
  • While 93 percent of political independents want them.
  • 77 percent of those who self-identified to Jones that they are “very conservative” politically favor greater gun sales checks.
  • 89 percent of those who are “somewhat conservative” say yes.
  • 99 percent of moderates.
  • 97 percent of the “some liberals.”
  • And 100 percent of the “very liberal.”

Jones finds that 88 percent of those who said they are “very active” in the LDS Church also support universal gun sales background checks.

Would such universal background checks have stopped the terrible Vegas and Texas recent killings?

Here we have very different partisan beliefs:

  • Most Utah Republicans say no; 80 percent said increased background checks would not have stopped the gunmen, while 17 percent said yes.
  • Democrats are the opposite; 69-27 percent say increased checks could have helped prevent the killings.
  • While independents, 62-35 percent such checks would not have helped.

Jones polled 600 adults from Nov. 16-21. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.