Government

Poll finds Iowans divided on gun laws

42 percent want to tighten laws, 41 percent say leave them alone

(File photo) Several hundred Linn-Mar High School students leave school during the “Walkout for Change” on Friday, April 20, 2018. The students marched from the high school to Marion Square for a rally against gun violence. The event was an unexcused absence and the student were told they would receive detention for skipping school. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
(File photo) Several hundred Linn-Mar High School students leave school during the “Walkout for Change” on Friday, April 20, 2018. The students marched from the high school to Marion Square for a rally against gun violence. The event was an unexcused absence and the student were told they would receive detention for skipping school. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

SIOUX CITY — The first Morningside College poll shows Iowans are divided on whether state lawmakers should tighten gun laws or leave them alone.

A bare majority of respondents also believe the state’s gun-free zones are at least sometimes effective.

Fifty-three percent of respondents also approved of how GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds is handling her job, while 36 percent disapproved. The GOP-controlled Legislature did not fare as well, as 49 percent disapproved of how well the it has done, while 41 percent approved.

The poll, which sampled 994 Iowa adults through automated calls to landline and cell numbers, was overseen by Morningside’s Col. Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement. Morningside students, supervised by Valerie Hennings, associate professor of political science, analyzed the survey data from Research Now SSI.

Hennings said the first Morningside Poll provides useful information to dissect concerning the Iowa landscape as the 2018 midterm elections in November draw closer.

In the 2017 session, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed a sweeping guns right bill that was signed by then-Gov. Terry Branstad. Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, one of the chief sponsors, said it expanded firearms rights that Second Amendment supporters had sought many years.

The law, among other things, broadens the state’s stand-your-ground provision, so a law-abiding citizen does not have a duty to retreat in a public place before using deadly force when confronted with danger to life or property. It also allows residents, under certain circumstances, to carry firearms into public buildings.

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In the Morningside Poll, 42 percent of respondents said Iowa firearms laws should be made more strict, while 41 percent said the law should be kept the same. Twelve percent said they should be less strict.

Of those who wanted more strict gun laws, 66 percent were Democrats and 20 percent were Republicans. Within the 41 percent who said Iowa gun laws should be kept the same, 59 percent were Republicans and 23 percent were Democrats.

Of the 42 percent of respondents who wanted more strict gun laws, 58 percent were in families living in a household without guns and 27 percent had guns where they live.

On the question of effectiveness of Iowa’s gun-free zones, 5 percent of respondents said they are always effective, 20 percent said they are usually effective, 26 percent said are sometimes effective, 17 percent answered rarely effective and 22 percent said never effective.

The poll was conducted May 2-12. The sampling was designed to be representative of the Iowa population, and 50 percent of respondents were age 60 or older. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

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