The Big Conversation
Texans remain mostly opposed to new gun control measures, but the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll reveals some wrinkles in public opinion.
According to the poll, 44 percent of Texans think gun laws should be strengthened, while 36 percent want them left as they are and 16 percent would make them less strict. The divide falls along predictable party lines, with Democrats mostly in favor of strengthening the laws and Republicans mostly opposed.
"I would say this is a 52-44 split against gun control," said Daron Shaw, a government professor at UT-Austin and co-director of the poll. "But that’s 44 percent in Texas saying they would favor stricter gun control. A bunch of people aren’t happy with the restrictions or think we’re fine. All told, it strikes me that a lot of people want more gun control laws in Texas."
Nearly 80 percent of Texans said they support expanded background checks for gun purchases, which Congress has recently taken up.
But more dramatic action, like banning assault weapons, faces opposition in Texas. Forty-nine percent of Texans oppose an assault-weapons ban, compared with 40 percent in favor. A ban on high-capacity magazines splits the state, with 46 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.
"The overall attitudes on guns are about what you would expect in Texas with a couple of exceptions," said Jim Henson, the co-director of the poll and the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. "That is, relatively suspicious of active restrictions and with a bias towards the status quo — in a state where the status quo is a lot less restrictive than in a lot of other places."
Texans' views on guns stand in contrast with those of most Americans. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week showed that 61 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws — a 5-point increase since January.
Read the full results of the UT/TT Poll for Texans' views on the NRA, arming teachers and allowing guns on college campuses.
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