New polling shows increasing support among Tennessee voters for tougher laws on selling, carrying guns

Think Tennesseans are hopelessly divided on the gun issue? Think again.  Majorities of Tennesseans support strengthening our gun laws.

From MTSU – April 12 – by Ken Blake

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Support for stricter laws on gun sales has jumped to 58 percent among Tennessee registered voters, according to an MTSU Poll taken during the same week as the “March for Our Lives” demonstrations in Washington D.C. and around the country.

The latest level of support represents a 24-point climb from the 34 percent support measured two years ago using the same question. Support for stricter laws on carrying guns has risen, too, from 34 percent two years ago to 46 percent now, a rise of 12 points.

“It remains to be seen how enduring these opinion shifts will prove to be,” said Dr. Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “But they are notable all the same, given their size, the speed with which they occurred, and the fact that they happened in a state where, as other findings from the same poll show, most voters still approve of the National Rifle Association, and about half favor letting teachers and administrators carry guns on school grounds.”

Meanwhile, in findings related to another recent, high-profile protest movement, the poll found that 55 percent of state voters think recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault made against prominent men in entertainment, politics and media reflect “widespread problems in society” rather than “isolated incidents of individual misconduct.”

The scientifically valid telephone poll of 600 randomly selected registered Tennessee voters was conducted March 22-29 and has an error margin of 4 percentage points.

Support for stricter gun laws rises sharply

Asked, “In general, do you think laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”

  • 58 percent answered “More strict,” up 24 points from 34 percent in 2016, the last time the MTSU Poll included the question.
  • 6 percent answered “Less strict,” down 11 points from 17 percent in 2016.
  • 33 percent answered, “Kept as they are now,” down 11 points from 44 percent in 2016.

The rest said they didn’t know or declined to answer the question. All changes are greater than the poll’s error margins.

Asked the follow-up question, “What about carrying guns? In general, do you think laws covering carrying guns should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”

  • 46 percent answered “More strict,” a 12-point climb from 34 percent in 2016.
  • 11 percent answered “Less strict,” a seven-point drop from 18 percent in 2016.
  • 39 percent answered “Kept as they are,” a four-point drop from 43 percent in 2016.

The rest gave no answer or didn’t know. The latter two changes fall within the poll’s error margins.