The Gender Gap on Gun Control

National Journal
Peter Bell
Sept. 27, 2013, 12:10 p.m.

A ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans say that a ban on as­sault weapons would sig­ni­fic­antly re­duce mass shoot­ings, but be­neath those find­ings lurks a huge gender gap, one that rivals the di­vide between Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans on the is­sue, ac­cord­ing to the latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll.

Wo­men are far more likely than men to say that mass shoot­ings could be re­duced if there were a ban on as­sault weapons, such as the Bush­mas­ter AR-15 rifle that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 chil­dren and six adults at Sandy Hook Ele­ment­ary school last Decem­ber. Al­most three-quar­ters of wo­men say an as­sault-weapons ban would be ef­fect­ive, com­pared with 44 per­cent of men. A ma­jor­ity of men, 54 per­cent, say such a ban wouldn’t have a ser­i­ous im­pact on re­du­cing mass shoot­ings.

Like the na­tion as a whole, opin­ion on the mat­ter among Re­pub­lic­ans is also riv­en by a gender gap. Re­pub­lic­ans in gen­er­al do not think an as­sault-weapons ban would be an ef­fect­ive way to cut down on mass shoot­ings; only 42 per­cent say it would re­duce them. But that skep­ti­cism is quartered largely among Re­pub­lic­an men. While less than a third (29 per­cent) of GOP men and GOP-lean­ing men say an as­sault ban would be ef­fect­ive, a ma­jor­ity of Re­pub­lic­an wo­men and Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing wo­men (57 per­cent) say a ban would re­duce mass shoot­ings.

The gender gap is less pro­nounced among Demo­crats, who over­whelm­ingly (72 per­cent) say an as­sault ban would re­duce shoot­ings. But it is still there: Demo­crat­ic wo­men and wo­men who lean to­ward the Demo­crats are more likely than their male coun­ter­parts to say that an as­sault-weapons ban would re­duce shoot­ings, by 79 per­cent to 66 per­cent.

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