Poll: Young Adults Support New Efforts to Curb Gun Violence

By Tammy Webber; Emily Swanson | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Poll: Young Adults Support New Efforts to Curb Gun Violence


Tammy Webber; Emily Swanson, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


CHICAGO * LaShun Roy supports a ban on semi-automatic weapons and more comprehensive background checks. But Roy, 21, a gun owner from rural Texas, doesn't consider gun-control measures a top priority in this year's elections.

For Keionna Cottrell, 24, who lives on Chicago's South Side and whose brother was shot and killed this year in another Illinois city, few things are more important than limiting access to guns.

"So many people are dying here because there is no control of the weapons out on our streets," Cottrell said. "Young men ... have real military guns and they're not scared to use them."

Although their lives and experiences differ, the young women's shared support for additional policies to curb gun violence reflect the feelings of many Americans between the ages of 18 and 30, regardless of their backgrounds, according to a new GenForward poll.

About 9 in 10 young adults say they support criminal background checks for all gun sales, a level of support that remains consistent across racial and ethnic groups. Stiffer penalties for violating current gun laws are supported by 9 in 10 young adults, including about 9 in 10 whites, Asian-Americans and Latinos, as well as 8 in 10 African-Americans.

Fifty-seven percent of young Americans support a ban on semi- automatic weapons, with support especially high 74 percent among Asian-Americans.

YOUNG VOICES

GenForward is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Roy, a full-time college student who learned to handle assault rifles while serving in the National Guard, said it was possible to protect the rights of gun owners and implement safeguards. That puts her among the 54 percent of young adults - including 61 percent of Asian-Americans, 57 percent of African-Americans and 52 percent of Latinos and whites - who say laws limiting gun ownership do not infringe on the public's right to bear arms.

"I think it's important to make sure the government isn't going door to door saying, 'Let me see your guns and ammo,'" said Roy, who is black. "But I think it's really important to have background checks ... and make sure a felon can't get a gun."

She also believes a new Texas law that permits open carry on college campuses is a bad idea.

"What if someone's not doing well in class or a family member dies? What's to stop them from pulling out a gun and shooting the teacher or people in class?" she said. "You just have so many different emotions and types of people you go to school with."

Personal differences

The poll underscores the differences in young Americans' personal experiences, which they say helped shape their attitudes toward guns.

More than a third of African-Americans - 37 percent - and nearly a quarter of Latinos say they or someone they know has experienced gun violence in the last year, compared with only 12 percent of whites or Asian-Americans. …

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