Strong support for Michigan gun restrictions, poll finds: ‘Time to make some bigger steps’ | National


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan voters broadly support measures advancing in the Legislature to combat gun violence but would also favor lawmakers going further by placing limits on magazine capacity and imposing a 14-day waiting period for buying firearms, according to a new statewide poll.

Three weeks after a gunman killed three students and wounded five others on the campus of Michigan State University, the survey conducted by the Lansing-based Glengariff Group from March 1-4 found strong approval for the effort to impose new restrictions on the sale and storage of weapons.

Among 600 registered voters, 75% said they favored a 14-day waiting period for buying a gun, 60% backed the idea of putting a capacity limit on magazines and 55% supported banning semiautomatic assault weapons. The poll, which surveyed a similar percentage of Democrats (37%) and Republicans (36%), had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points and was released exclusively to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4).

“The conversation has clearly evolved on the issue of guns,” said Richard Czuba, founder of the Glengariff Group. “The voters are saying ‘No, we don’t want you to ban guns. But we want some limitations placed on how they get into people’s hands.’

“I think we are at that point where they deal with the horrors of this issue every single day, and they have made some decisions on what needs to be done.”

For decades, Republicans controlled at least one of the legislative chambers in Michigan, a state known for its hunting culture where lawmakers have traditionally taken an annual break from session each November for the start of firearm deer hunting season.

Republicans have resisted proposals they saw as infringing on people’s ability to carry guns, including after a shooting at Oxford High School killed four students and wounded seven people in November 2021. But Democrats won majorities in the House and Senate in November, providing an opportunity for restrictions on firearms to reach Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

Joyce Seglin, a 72-year-old West Bloomfield Township resident and one of the participants in the new poll, said there had been too many shootings in the country, and it was time for action.

“I’ll take the small steps toward the big steps,” Seglin said. “But it’s time to make some bigger steps.”

MSU senior Emily Rau, 21, holds a sign as she listens to the speakers during a Feb. 20 gun control legislation rally on the Michigan Capitol lawn in Lansing.

In the weeks after the MSU shooting, Democratic lawmakers have prioritized an initial package of bills that would require criminal background checks for all firearm purchases, set new storage standards for guns in homes and permit “extreme risk” protection orders, also known as a red flag law, to allow guns to be taken away from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

There was overwhelming support for the three measures in the new Glengariff Group poll with 88% of participants saying they would favor requiring any person purchasing any type of gun from anyone else to go through a background check. Only 9% opposed the idea.

On setting penalties for individuals who fail to lock up their guns at home or keep them out of the hands of minors, 80% supported the proposal and 17% were opposed. As for a red flag law, 75% supported it, and 19% were opposed.

Democratic lawmakers have said they view the three proposals, which received committee hearings last week, as a good place for the Legislature to start its efforts on gun violence because of the widespread support for the ideas.

The bills are “common sense,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, who chairs the Senate’s Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

“I am hopeful that we can pass these three sets of bills soon,” Chang said. “And then, we can move on to identify what are the other gun violence prevention measures that also have support and would also make a difference in terms of saving lives.”

More bills on the way

Potentially, other proposals could be more controversial, but the new poll found support for multiple ideas that have been floated by Democrats in the past, such as a capacity limit on magazines and a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons.

On a waiting period for gun purchases, 75% of participants said they favored imposing a 14-day period between when someone purchased a gun and when they could take possession of it.

State Rep. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, a vocal opponent of gun control measures, said he believes the polling numbers would look different if people heard the arguments from both sides of the issue. Such a waiting period would infringe on people’s rights to own firearms, Carra contended.

“I took an oath to defend the Constitution. I take that seriously,” said Carra, who added people needed to realize what the proper role of government was.

High-powered rifles and other long guns at the Firing Line gun store in Westland.

Carra has previously supported so-called “constitutional carry” proposals, which would eliminate the requirement that someone must obtain a permit to carry a concealed pistol in Michigan.

In the new poll, 22% supported the idea of allowing anyone to legally carry a gun without a concealed weapons permit. But 72% opposed it.

Twenty-five other states have “constitutional carry” policies in place, according to the National Rifle Association.

Meanwhile, nine states have imposed waiting periods that apply to the purchase of at least some types of guns, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. For example, California has a 10-day waiting period for all firearm purchases, according to the center.

Raising the minimum age requirement for gun purchases from 18 to 21 years old except for guns used for hunting or agricultural purposes was also popular in the new poll with 74% in support and 23% in opposition. Similarly, 73% wanted to prohibit so-called “ghost guns,” those created with 3-D printers, and 22% opposed the idea.

About 73% of Michigan voters surveyed said they favor outlawing so-called “ghost guns” that are made by 3D printers and don’t contain serial numbers.

Banning semiautomatic assault weapons and limiting magazine capacity were less popular measures but still had support from a majority of Michigan voters surveyed for the poll.

The survey found 60% favored limiting magazines to no more than 10 bullets at a time, with 33% opposed. Meanwhile, 55% wanted to prohibit semiautomatic assault weapons in Michigan, and 40% rejected the idea.

Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-West Bloomfield Township, who has championed gun reforms, said lawmakers have a variety of bills in the works, including one to institute a 14-day waiting period for purchases and another to ban “ghost guns.”

Conversations about the gun violence strategy are ongoing, Bayer said. But Democrats intend to do more than just the three proposals they’ve held hearings on, she said.

“It is a great place to start,” Bayer said.

‘It’s out of hand’

Seglin of West Bloomfield Township is among the Michigan residents who want lawmakers to go further than their initial package of gun bills.

Seglin said it was frightening that she goes through a more intensive background check process as a mortgage writer than gun buyers do. It’s pathetic, she added, that 5-year-olds in the country have to be scared of mass shootings.

She favored both the 14-day waiting period and a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons, which she described as the weapon of choice for young people when it comes to mass killings.

“There are too many shootings in our country,” she said. “It’s out of hand.”

Currently, nine states have enacted laws that generally ban the sale, manufacturing and transfer of assault weapons, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

From the other side of the debate, Brock Star, a 25-year-old from Grandville, said he simply didn’t agree with the proposed restrictions, which he sees as an infringement on people’s rights to purchase guns.

Star said he opposed a waiting period.

“A right delayed is a right denied,” Star said of the waiting period idea.

Star also said he opposes the proposed gun storage standards, contending that not everyone has the money to buy a safe for their weapons. Senate Bill 79 would give gun owners the option of putting a trigger lock on an unloaded gun if they don’t store it in a safe.

Star was one of the gun owners questioned in the survey. Overall, 56% of participants said someone in their household owned a gun.

A slight majority, 51% of participants, said they knew someone with a child at MSU or who works at MSU.

Czuba, whose firm conducted the survey, said he hoped the poll would provide a benchmark of where Michiganians stood on gun proposals.


(Detroit News staff writer Beth LeBlanc contributed to this story.)


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