National Survey of Gun Policy
Americans broadly agree on numerous gun violence prevention policies, according to new survey data.
A 2023 nationally representative public opinion survey from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found broad agreement among Americans for gun violence prevention policies—regardless of their political affiliation or whether or not they own guns.
The Johns Hopkins National Survey of Gun Policy has tracked Americans’ support of gun policies every two years since 2013. Despite portrayals by politicians, lobbyists, and the media of gun policy as controversial and starkly divided, survey results show that a majority of Americans support gun policies that have proven effective at or show promise for reducing gun violence.
81% of Americans support...
prohibiting a person subject to a temporary domestic violence restraining order from having a gun for the duration of the order.
Support for this policy increased by more than two percentage points overall since 2021.
Domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs)—sometimes referred to as domestic violence restraining orders—are civil court orders to protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse, including dating partners. Federal law prohibits anyone subject to a DVPO from purchasing or possessing firearms.
- Gun owners and non-gun owners alike largely support prohibiting firearm access in these situations, at 79.2% and 81.7%, respectively.
- Over the past 10 years, support among American adults for restricting people under DVPOs from owning a gun has remained near or above 80%.
- Research shows that the stronger the DVPO protections, the clearer the life-saving benefits. DVPOs that require firearm removal are associated with a 12% reduction in intimate partner homicide.
76% of Americans support...
allowing family members to ask the court to temporarily remove guns from a relative who they believe is at risk of harming themselves or others. who they believe is at risk of harming themselves or others.
An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) is a civil order with due process protections issued by a court when someone is at risk of violence (including suicide and assault).
Law enforcement—and family or household members, depending on a state’s ERPO law—may petition the court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to firearms when they are believed to be at elevated risk of harming themselves or others.
“ERPOs and DVPOs are two examples of how we are using evidence to inform intervention and implementation strategies to improve the lives of families and communities throughout the country,” says Shannon Frattaroli, PhD `99, MPH `94, professor of Health Policy and Management.
- A vast majority of Democrats (89.7%) support this policy, as do most Republicans (68.5%).
- Gun owners (72.3%) and non-gun owners (78.4%) also largely support this policy.
- ERPOs can also be used to address threats of mass shootings. A 2022 study that analyzed nearly 6,800 ERPO cases from six states (CA, CO, CT, FL, MD, WA) found that 10% involved the threat of killing at least three people.
72% of Americans support…
requiring a person to obtain a license from a local law enforcement agency before buying a gun.
Permit-to-Purchase laws, or firearm purchaser licensing, require an individual to apply for and obtain a license before purchasing a firearm. In most states with this policy, the process includes submitting an application to state or local police, getting fingerprinted, undergoing a comprehensive background check, and often involves safety training requirements.
“Requiring a license or permit to purchase a handgun reduces firearm homicides and suicides, as well as trafficking and shootings of law enforcement officers. It is one of the most effective policies we have to reduce gun violence,” says Cassandra Crifasi, PhD `14, MPH, co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions.
- Among gun owners and Republicans, more than half support this policy.
- States with strong handgun purchaser licensing laws were associated with 56% lower rates of fatal mass shooting incidents and 67% fewer mass shooting victims.
72% of Americans support...
laws that require a person to lock up the guns in their home when not in use.
“The most quintessential safe and secure storage is a gun being unloaded, locked in a gun safe or lockbox, and the ammunition is stored separately,” says Crifasi.
- Research has demonstrated decreased risk for suicide among adolescents when guns are stored safely. States with child access prevention laws that require guns to be stored in a safe and secure manner have lower rates of adolescent suicide. Safe and secure firearm storage practices can also help to prevent unintentional gun injuries, homicides, and mass shootings.
- Behavioral interventions—including educational campaigns, and policy interventions, like child access prevention laws—can promote safe and secure storage practices and save lives.
- More than half of gun owners (58.0%) and a large majority of non-gun owners (78.9%) support requiring gun owners to keep firearms locked when not in use.
69% of Americans support...
funding community-based gun violence prevention programs that provide outreach, conflict mediation, and social support for people at high risk of gun violence.
Several types of community violence intervention program models have been used to reduce gun violence through outreach by credible messengers to individuals at highest risk, mediation of disputes that could potentially lead to shootings, promotion of nonviolent responses to conflicts, assistance with social services, and life coaching.
“Despite the deep challenges faced by communities that have experienced high rates of gun violence, research has shown that investments in targeted and well-implemented public health solutions can save lives and reduce trauma from gun violence,” says Daniel Webster, ScD '91, MPH, Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management.
- A majority of gun owners (61.8%) and Republicans (54.4%) support funding for programs that can reduce violence through conflict mediation and other social supports.
- In Oakland, California, a community violence intervention program was associated with a citywide 32% reduction in shootings through 2017 that was concentrated in the areas and groups that were engaged by the program.
Only 23% of Americans support...
allowing a person who can legally own a gun to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public without having to obtain a concealed carry license.
Concealed carry laws regulate who can carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public spaces. Permissive open and concealed carry laws are promoted as making it easier for individuals to defend themselves against crime, but these laws have been shown to increase gun violence.
“In general, violent crime increased after states loosened concealed carry permitting requirements,” says Mitchell Doucette, PhD '18, assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of research methods at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions. “Allowing more individuals to carry concealed guns in public—including some who would have previously been denied carry permits due to prior arrests or restraining orders—can increase inappropriate use of firearms in response to interpersonal conflicts, disputes, or other situations.”
Here’s how you can help push for evidence-based solutions to gun violence
- Learn more about solutions to gun violence that focus on prevention strategies that, if implemented broadly, would significantly reduce gun-related death and injury.
- Contact your elected representatives—at the local, state, and federal levels—to share the results of our public opinion polling on effective solutions to gun violence.
- Share our social media posts about this survey to help inform your family and friends.
Stay up-to-date with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions
About the Survey
The Johns Hopkins National Survey of Gun Policy has tracked Americans’ support of gun policies every two years since 2013. The 2023 survey included 3,096 respondents including 1,002 gun owners and 2,094 non-gun owners. The breakdown by political party affiliation of survey respondents was 730 Republicans, 1,199 Democrats, and 1,163 Independents.
Results from each of the previous year’s surveys can be found at the following links:
This page was originally published on June 2, 2023, and revised on July 21, 2023.