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Pallin R, Charbonneau A, Kravitz-Wirtz N, Wintemute GJ. Public Opinion on Firearm Injury Prevention Proposals in California. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1918786. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.18786
Agreement between firearm owners and nonowners on many firearm violence prevention proposals is more common than typically recognized.1
This survey study assessed public opinion on 2 proposals in California, overall and by firearm ownership status. One proposal is an amnesty for high-capacity ammunition magazines. In 2016, voters approved (63.1% in favor) a ban on possession that has since been challenged in federal court.2 Research suggests that restricting high-capacity magazines and weapons that use them may reduce firearm violence.3
The second proposal would prohibit firearm purchase and possession by persons with multiple recent convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). There is substantial evidence showing that alcohol misuse is associated with increased risk for violence, including among firearm owners.4,5
The California Safety and Well-being Survey was designed by us and administered online in 2018 by Ipsos Public Affairs, LLC; detailed methods are presented elsewhere.6 Respondents were California residents aged 18 years and older from the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a probability-based internet panel sourced using address-based sampling. Respondents provided online informed consent by initiating the survey, and their answers were weighted to represent California’s adult population. We calculated weighted proportions with 95% confidence intervals for each measure or crosstabulation using Stata SE software version 15.1 (StataCorp).
This study followed the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) reporting guideline and was approved by the institutional review board at the University of California, Davis.
Of 5232 eligible panel members with baseline profile information, 2558 completed the survey (48.9% completion rate). Respondents were informed of the state’s existing high-capacity magazine ban, after which a majority (62.3%; 95% CI, 59.2%-65.4%) indicated support for “an amnesty program that allows people to turn in ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, no questions asked” (Table 1). No difference between firearm owners and nonowners was observed; support among firearm owners decreased as the number of guns owned increased: among owners of 1 to 3 guns, 61.1% (95% CI, 52.4%-69.2%) supported amnesty compared with 26.7% (95% CI, 11.2%-51.3%) of owners of 10 or more guns. More owners without high-capacity magazines (53.2%; 95% CI, 45.4%-60.8%) supported amnesty than those with high-capacity magazines (41.4%; 95% CI, 23.5%-62.0%).
After reading a definition of DUI and, for a randomized subset of respondents, a statement about the association between DUI and risk of future violence, majorities of all respondents (67.9%; 95% CI, 64.9%-70.8%), those living with firearm owners (66.5%; 95% CI, 56.2%-75.5%), and nonowners (72.3%; 95% CI, 68.8%-75.6%) supported “a law that prevents someone from buying a gun for 5 years if they have had 2 or more DUI convictions in 5 years” (Table 2). Half of firearm owners (50.0%; 95% CI, 42.8%-57.1%) indicated support for such a law. Support did not vary significantly by self-reported alcohol use or by exposure to the statement about DUI and violence.
Variation in support by demographic characteristics and political ideology was similar for both proposals. Half of respondents supported both proposals (50.5%; 95% CI, 47.3%-53.7%), and 6.5% (95% CI, 5.1%-8.3%) opposed both.
Most respondents supported an amnesty for high-capacity ammunition magazines and a prohibition based on DUI convictions, including at least half of firearm owners. Support for one proposal but not the other was common, but opposition to both was rare, suggesting that we did not simply capture respondents’ general opinions on firearm regulation. Nationally, support for firearm policies is also high, and gaps between owners and nonowners are frequently small.1
Our findings have limitations. First, some reported opposition to magazine amnesty may represent general opposition to the magazine ban. Second, survey research is subject to nonresponse error and social desirability bias. Third, given California’s relatively low rates of and strict regulations on firearm ownership, our results may not be generalizable. Replication in other states is recommended.
Accepted for Publication: November 11, 2019.
Published: January 8, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.18786
Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2020 Pallin R et al. JAMA Network Open.
Corresponding Author: Rocco Pallin, MPH, Violence Prevention Research Program, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, 2315 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95817 (email@example.com).
Author Contributions: Ms Pallin and Dr Kravitz-Wirtz had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: Pallin.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Statistical analysis: Pallin, Charbonneau.
Obtained funding: Wintemute.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Pallin, Charbonneau.
Supervision: Kravitz-Wirtz, Wintemute.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: This study was supported by the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center with funds from the State of California, the California Wellness Foundation (award 2014-255), the Heising-Simons Foundation (award 2017-0447), the Langeloth Foundation (award 1824), and the University of California, Davis, Violence Prevention Research Program.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.