A clear majority of Florida voters support a nationwide ban on assault weapons and oppose arming teachers or school officials, according to a poll released Wednesday.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 62 percent of voters favor a ban on assault weapons, and about two-thirds support “stricter gun laws,” like universal background checks or a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, while 56 percent oppose arming faculty members.
The results closely mirror those from a separate poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative and also released Wednesday.
The results of the Quinnipiac poll, which queried 1,156 self-identified registered voters, are largely split among party lines, with less than half of Republicans approving of the assault weapons ban compared to 86 percent of Democrats, and 72 percent of Republicans in favor of allowing faculty members to carry firearms on school grounds compared to 11 percent of Democrats.
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The poll was conducted between Feb. 23-26, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. It comes two weeks after a teenager used an AR-15-style rifle to kill 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The results provide the latest look at how Florida voters feel about guns in the wake of the shooting, and how that compares to legislation moving in Tallahassee, where lawmakers in both the House and Senate are considering proposals to train and arm select school faculty but have voted against a push by Democrats to ban the sale of assault-style weapons.
A poll released last week by state Senate Republicans also showed Florida voters support an assault weapons ban.
On Tuesday, the Florida House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would allow trained teachers to carry guns in class if superintendents or school boards approve. Also included in the bill is a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, raising the age to buy any gun to 21 and giving police more authority to confiscate guns from people who threaten themselves or others. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar bill later Tuesday.
Eighty-seven percent of voters favor a mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases, 78 percent agree with raising the minimum age for purchase and 89 percent favor allowing police or family members to petition a judge to remove guns from a person who may be at risk of violent behavior, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
“Increased security at school entrances,” 51 percent of voters said, would do more to reduce gun violence in schools. About a third of respondents disagreed, saying stricter gun laws would be more effective, and 12 percent said armed teachers is the answer.
“Floridians are strongly united that more needs to be done to rein in guns, especially the type of gun used this month to massacre 17 people in Parkland,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. “These numbers show remarkable agreement across the electorate, the kind not seen very often these days.”
FAU’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative found that nearly 70 percent of people in the state want to see a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and support stricter gun laws. More than 87 percent support universal background checks and nearly 78 percent support raising the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21 from the current 18.
The poll, an online and automated-phone query of 800 people, was conducted Feb. 23-25.
Close to 38 percent of those queried in the poll identified as Democrats, and slightly more than 35 percent identified as Republicans, and 41 percent said they own a gun.
In the Quinnipiac poll, 32 percent of those queried identified as Democrats and 30 percent as Republicans.
The findings come six months before primary elections for U.S. Senate, governor, and a slew of other state and local offices. The Quinnipiac poll shows that a majority of Florida voters are split on how Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson have handled the issue of gun violence, while a majority disapprove of Sen. Marco Rubio’s and President Donald Trump’s handling of the issue.
“Gun control may turn out to be a pivotal issue in the midterm elections and could well be the difference in a close race for the Senate between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson,” Kevin Wagner, a political science professor and research fellow of the Initiative, said in a statement. “While large majorities of Floridians support background checks and an increase in the age requirement, it is not at all clear that there is sufficient support for these measures in the Florida Legislature. As we are already late in the session, it will take a serious push by Gov. Scott to pass any of these reforms this year.”