Two months after shooting suspect James Holmes allegedly shot 12 people to death and injured another 58 in an Aurora movie theater, Coloradans are staunchly against stricter gun-control laws, a new Denver Post poll shows.
Respondents were asked, “What do you think is more important – to protect the right of Americans to own guns? Or, to control gun ownership?”
Fifty-six percent said it was more important to protect the right to own guns versus 39 percent who said controlling gun ownership and 5 percent who answered they weren’t sure. Men tended to be more likely to defend gun ownership, with 63 percent supporting the right to own guns and 32 percent saying gun control was more important
Women, meanwhile, were more divided on the question, with 49 percent saying the right to own guns was more important versus 46 percent saying gun control was more important.
The survey also asked, “What do you think is the best way to reduce gun violence in this country: by passing stricter gun control laws? Or by stricter enforcement of existing laws?”
On this question, Coloradans were more lopsided against gun control, with 27 percent supporting stricter gun-control laws and 64 percent favoring stricter enforcement of existing laws
There was also less division between genders, with 71 percent of men supporting stricter enforcement of existing laws to 21 percent supporting stricter laws. Meanwhile, 56 percent of women supported beefing up enforcement of existing laws versus 32 percent who said new, stricter laws were needed.
The findings of the Post/SurveyUSA poll are similar to other, national polls that have shown Americans have softened their support for stricter gun controls in recent years despite mass shootings such as the one for which Holmes stands accused.
The automated telephone poll, conducted Sept. 9-12 for the Post by the firm Survey-USA, took a sounding of 615 likely voters in Colorado. About 26 percent of those questioned were cellphone-only users, who were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. Of voters included in the sample, 34 percent said they are Republicans, 34 percent said they are Democrats and 30 percent identified as unaffiliated voters. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Republicans were overwhelmingly in favor of gun rights, with 79 percent saying the right to own guns is more important than controlling gun ownership to 29 percent of Democrats who said the same thing. Still, Democrats were more closely divided when asked about stricter laws, with 48 percent favoring stricter laws to 44 percent supporting greater enforcement of existing laws.
One Coloradan interviewed in the random survey was Mark Baisley, a 57-year-old from Roxborough Park who also happens to be the chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party.
Baisley said the right to own guns was most important to him and was against stricter laws. “I actually thought about the Aurora incident in my answer,” he said. “If there were more people in that theater who were armed, there would have been a greater chance of stopping that violence by people shooting back. “Evil people are going to do evil things every now and then. You can’t just clamp down on everyone’s freedom in hopes that you’re going to stop an evil person from doing evil to others one of these days.”
But Cindy Gilbert, 57, of Fort Collins wasn’t so sure of that. In the poll, Gilbert said controlling ownership of guns was more important, and she favored stricter gun laws.
“I think that would have been pure hell if other people had, had guns in that theater,” Gilbert said, adding that it was just as likely that theatergoers with guns would have shot fellow movie patrons by accident. “More people would have died.”