A majority of likely 2022 voters in Washington State support a ban on military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle, with over fifty percent expressing strong support, NPI’s most recent statewide survey has found.
56% of 1,039 voters surveyed last week for NPI by Public Policy Polling said they supported a ban, while 38% were opposed. Just 6% were not sure.
52% expressed strong support and 31% expressed strong opposition. 4% were somewhat supportive and 7% were somewhat opposed.
This finding demonstrates that there is solid support for legislation in Washington to prohibit the sale, manufacture, transport, or import of firearms that were designed to efficiently kill large numbers of human beings.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who joined our team today in Kent to unveil this poll finding, has requested such legislation for over half a decade, but it hasn’t received a floor vote in either the state House or the state Senate.
2023 can and must be the year that it finally does.
Over the past few weeks, there has been an almost nonstop series of mass shootings around the country. Shoppers at a Buffalo, New York grocery store were murderously gunned down with an assault weapon the shooter had modified.
Then, just days later, children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas were also massacred with an assault weapon, their bodies in many cases unrecognizable for identification purposes as a result of the horrific exit wounds.
The United States is the only advanced country in the world that regularly experiences the tragedy of mass shootings. And as recent history has shown us, no kind of place in our land has been spared from the scourge of gun violence.
Homes, workplaces, schools, houses of worship, grocery stories, movie theaters, festivals… all been turned into gruesome crime scenes too many times to count.
We don’t have to live like this or accept it. There is no legitimate reason to allow civilians to buy or import weapons of war. Howitzers, fighter jets, and tanks aren’t for sale to civilians, and military-style assault weapons shouldn’t be either.
If you search the net, you’ll find seemingly endless essays from gun enthusiasts arguing vociferously that gun safety laws simply don’t work and can’t work.
During most of the 1990s, the United States had a federal-level assault weapons ban in place, which credible research indicates helped reduce mass shootings.
Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 and wasn’t renewed by Congress, which was under Republican control at the time.
Seven states currently have assault weapons bans in place, along with the District of Columbia, but Washington isn’t one of them. (The seven states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.)
Our polling shows that voters here are ready for the Evergreen State to take action and be among the vanguard of states that ban assault weapons.
Here’s the question we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose banning the sale, transport, manufacture, or import of military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle in Washington State?
- Support: 56%
- Strongly: 52%
- Somewhat: 4%
- Oppose: 38%
- Somewhat: 7%
- Strongly: 31%
- Not sure: 6%
Our survey of 1,039 likely 2022 Washington State voters was in the field from Wednesday, June 1st through Thursday, June 2nd, 2022.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and text message answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0% at the 95% confidence interval.
In King County, which is home to over thirty percent of the state’s population, support for an assault weapons ban is a whopping 73%, with 68% strongly supportive and just 19% opposed in total. 7% were not sure.
But King County isn’t the only region of the state that supports a ban.
You might think that Eastern and Central Washington would be adamantly opposed to an assault weapons ban, given the area’s right wing bent.
But it turns out that even voters there support an assault weapons ban.
50% of voters in Eastern and Central Washington are supportive: 45% strongly, 5% somewhat. 43% are opposed: 38% strongly, 5% somewhat.
That’s a majority!
Support for an assault weapons ban also spans across all ages, with majorities of every group old enough to vote supportive of banning assault weapons.
Young voters ages eighteen to twenty-nine, who represent Washington’s future, are the most enthusiastic. 74% of them (practically three-fourths!) support a ban, with 71% strongly supportive and 3% somewhat supportive.
Encouragingly, more than a fifth of voters who identify as Republican (21%) are supportive of an assault weapons ban, along with nearly 90% of Democratic voters and 44% of independent voters. (Another 48% of independents say they are opposed, while a further 8% are not sure.)
This new finding fits with our previous research on support for gun safety laws in Washington State, which now goes back over half a decade.
In 2016, we found sky-high support for Initiative 1491 (extreme risk protection orders), which passed easily. In 2018, we found rock solid support for Initiative 1639 (raising the age to buy firearms and instituting safe storage requirements), which also passed easily. Earlier this year, in February, we found a supermajority supportive of banning high-capacity magazines and prohibiting the carrying of guns at local government meetings and election sites.
The Legislature has taken important steps in the last few sessions to build on the three voter-approved gun safety initiatives adopted by the people.
That’s welcome progress. But we can’t stop there.
Next year, the Legislature must go further and ban military-style assault weapons from being sold, manufactured, transported, or imported in Washington State.