scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Poll finds young adults support efforts to curb gun violence

<?EM-dummyText [Drophead goes here] ?>

A new poll shows most young adults across racial and ethnic groups support tighter gun policies.M. Spencer Green

CHICAGO — Fifty-seven percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 support a ban on semiautomatic weapons, with support especially high — 74 percent — among Asian-Americans, according to a new poll.

About 9 in 10 Americans in that age group said they support criminal background checks for all gun sales, a level of support that remains consistent across racial and ethnic groups, according to the poll by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Stiffer penalties for violating existing gun laws are supported by 9 in 10 young adults, including about 9 in 10 whites, Asian-Americans, and Latinos, as well as 8 in 10 African-Americans, the poll found.


The poll, called GenForward, is designed to assess the views of the combined US young adult population. But it also records the views of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Fifty-four percent of young adults — including 61 percent of Asian-Americans, 57 percent of African-Americans, and 52 percent of Latinos and whites — say laws limiting gun ownership do not infringe on the public's right to bear arms.

The poll underscores the differences in young Americans' personal experiences, which they say helped shape their attitudes toward guns.

More than a third of African-Americans — 37 percent — and nearly a quarter of Latinos say they or someone they know has experienced gun violence in the last year, compared with only 12 percent of whites or Asian-Americans.

About 4 in 10 young adults say they live in households where someone owns a gun, including 21 percent who personally own one. Among young whites, 52 percent live in a gun-owning household, with 29 percent owning one personally.

Twenty-four percent of young blacks, 23 percent of young Latinos, and 19 percent of young Asian-Americans live in gun owning households, though just 10 percent of Latinos and Asian-Americans and 11 percent of African-Americans say they own one personally.


Yet more than half of Americans age 18 to 30 say it's more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights. That includes 76 percent of young Asian-Americans, 63 percent of African-Americans, and 60 percent of Latinos. Young whites are divided, with 53 percent saying it's more important to protect gun rights and 46 percent saying it's more important to control gun ownership.

Saajan Bhakta, 21, of Wichita, Kan., said he doesn't oppose gun ownership, but believes gun violence ''needs to be addressed very promptly'' with new laws restricting access for people with criminal records and some mental health issues and a ban on some semiautomatic weapons.

He says the recent killings of police officers in Dallas, where he has close friends and family, showed ''that it could happen anytime, anywhere, with anyone.''

''Human behavior is predictable to a level, but also unpredictable,'' said Bhakta, who runs a humanitarian nonprofit organization and hopes to earn a doctorate in psychology. ''Being on top of it from the beginning helps prevent unnecessary events.''

The poll of 1,940 adults age 18-30 was conducted July 9-20. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.