Nearly seven in ten likely 2024 voters in Washington support strengthening the Evergreen State’s gun safety laws to require a permit to purchase a firearm, the Northwest Progressive Institute’s latest statewide survey has found.
68% of 874 voters interviewed across the state from March 7th-8th support the policies proposed by Representative Liz Berry (D‑36th District: Seattle) and dozens of her House colleagues in House Bill 1143, which is now under consideration in the Senate. 29% are opposed and 3% said they were not sure.
Well over a majority — 56% — of our respondents said they were strongly supportive, while an additional 12% were strongly supportive.
10% were somewhat opposed and 19% were strongly opposed.
House Bill 1143, prefiled on January 5th, was requested by Governor Jay Inslee. Its Senate companion, SB 5211, is prime sponsored by Senator Marko Liias.
The amended bill, according to nonpartisan staff:
- Provides that a dealer may not transfer any firearm to a purchaser or transferee until completion of a background check indicating the person is eligible to possess firearms and ten business days have elapsed since the dealer requested the background check.
- Prohibits a dealer from transferring a firearm to a purchaser or transferee unless the person provides the dealer with proof of completion of a recognized firearm safety training program.
- Updates firearm transfer and background check processes, including updates to conform to implementation of a state firearms background check program.
The House of Representatives voted to pass HB 1143 on March 7th by a vote of 52–44, with 2 excused. The bill is scheduled to be considered in executive session next Tuesday following its hearing today in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.
Here’s the question we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose enacting a permit-to-purchase law for firearms, which would require people who want to buy a gun to get fingerprinted, take a class in gun safety, and pass an enhanced background check first?
- Support: 68%
- Strongly support: 56%
- Somewhat support: 12%
- Oppose: 29%
- Somewhat oppose: 10%
- Strongly oppose: 19%
- Not sure: 3%
Our survey of 874 likely 2024 Washington State voters was in the field from Tuesday, March 7th through Wednesday, March 8th, 2023.
The poll utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
It was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence interval.
Given the toplines, it was not surprising to see support for permit-to-purchase among all age groups and in all regions of Washington State.
78% of likely voters in King County support permit-to-purchase, along with 71% of voters in North Puget Sound, 69% of South Sound voters, 62% of voters on the Olympic Peninsula or Southwest Washington, and 53% of voters in Eastern and Central Washington, the most Republican region of the state.
60% of independent voters also support permit-to-purchase, along with 91% of Democratic voters. Republicans are split: 52% oppose the idea, but a significant minority, 40%, they say support it. 40% of Republican voters in support is a huge, huge percentage for a gun safety bill! It just goes to show that not every Republican voter agrees with the absolutist positions of the NRA and gun lobby.
NPI has been researching Washingtonians’ support for gun safety bills for more than half a decade, and we have consistently found robust majorities in support of every proposed law that we have tested so far, including:
- Extreme risk protection orders (Initiative 1491)
- Banning high capacity magazines
- Prohibiting the carrying of guns at local government meetings
- Banning assault weapons (under consideration as HB 1240)
HB 1143 ranks as one of the most popular ideas we’ve tested, with the support of nearly seven out of ten voters. Legislators should act swiftly to get this legislation to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk so it can be signed into law.