Poll: Utahns Overwhelmingly Support Expanded Background Checks for Gun Purchases

Gun SalesUtahns overwhelmingly want background checks on private gun sales that take place over the Internet or at gun shows, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 76 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support changes in gun sales law to require such background checks on persons buying a gun legally over the Internet or from a private, unlicensed, seller at a gun show.

Some estimates put 40 percent of all gun sales in the United States coming from “private” individuals – where background checks on the buyers are not made.

On Monday evening, Democratic President Barack Obama announced he would issue an executive order requiring more gun sellers – especially those who sell on the internet or at gun shows –  to be licensed. The move would force them to conduct background checks on buyers.

Whether such orders can be enforced or will be challenged in court remains to be seen.

The GOP-controlled Congress has refused to adopt universal gun sale background checks.

Instant background checks are currently conducted by licensed gun sellers – like a gun or sporting goods store – and by licensed gun dealers over the Internet and at gun shows.

Jones finds support for closing the so-called “background check loopholes” is consistent across political, religious and age demographic categories.

Some numbers from his new survey:

    • 76 percent of Utahns support requiring background checks on persons buying a firearm over the Internet or at a gun show from a private seller, 21 percent oppose such new gun background laws, 2 percent don’t know.
    • 80 percent of women favor such new gun control laws, 74 percent of men do.
    • 70 percent of Republicans support such tougher gun control laws, 27 percent oppose and 3 percent don’t know.
    • 96 percent of Utah Democrats favor such new laws. Only 4 percent oppose and 0 percent don’t know.
    • Political independents approve of such new controls, 79-19 percent.
    • Those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically favor such “universal” gun backgrounds, 63-33 percent.
    • 75 percent of those who said they are “somewhat conservative” support enhanced background checks.
    • 84 percent of “moderate” Utahns support such background checks. And as one’s political philosophy moves more to the left, the more support such checks has increases.

Fifteen years ago a mentally deranged person walked into an LDS Church building in downtown Salt Lake City and killed several people with a legally acquired gun.

That led to then-LDS Church leader Gordon Hinckley asking out loud at one of the victim’s funeral if something couldn’t be done to keep guns out of the reach of mentally ill people.

But after Utah legislators looked into the matter, they decided not to act on that issue.

Jones finds that “active” LDS Utahns support greater background checks 75-22 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the Mormon Church favor enhanced background checks, 70-29 percent.

Those who said they have no religion support such background checks, 86-10 percent.

Jones polled 622 adult Utahns from Dec. 8-14, margin of error of 3.93 percent.