Lawmaker positions could impact voter support

Voters in Illinois are ready for changes to gun laws, and there is a large bloc who is more likely to support a candidate who votes for stronger laws. They are not by any means anti-gun, but they strongly favor laws that will help prevent guns falling into the wrong hands and protect their families.

While opposed to conceal and carry generally, if it must happen, voters favor a broad range of limits on who can carry weapons where. They don’t stop there. There is also near universal support for background checks on all gun sales, and strong support for banning military-style assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines.

Voters do not buy the NRA’s arguments that common-sense gun laws are a slippery slope towards infringing on 2nd Amendment rights and confiscating guns. They believe there is a moderate, middle-ground approach, and are looking for lawmakers who fill that space.

The below are key findings and recommendations from a survey of 600 registered voters in Illinois, with an additional 300 oversample of Will and DuPage counties. A phone survey was conducted from March 27 through April 2, 2013. Margin of error is +/- 4 percent for the total electorate and +/- 5 percent for Will and DuPage counties (combined).

Lawmakers’ positions on guns can impact elections in a way that benefits candidates who support stronger gun laws. Voters in Illinois are now ready to vote on this issue—and in contrast to conventional wisdom, are now more likely to support a candidate who supports stronger gun laws by a wide margin over one who does not. Four times as many voters say they are more likely to support a candidate who favors stronger guns laws than someone who does not, a stunning margin as shown in the table below. Fifty-six percent (including 51 percent of gun owners) are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong conceal and carry law; only 13 percent will support a candidate who wants a weak law.

Figure 1 – More likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong conceal and carry law with more restrictions, or vote for a candidate who supports a weaker law with fewer restrictions


Most impressive here is the intensity: 40 percent are “much” more likely to support a candidate who wants a strong law. This is nearly twice what we normally see, and 13 points higher than those who say conceal and carry will make no difference on their vote.

The impact is even higher when asked about additional gun laws and background checks. Sixty-two percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a strong law with even more provisions outside of conceal and carry, such as universal background checks, limiting ammunition magazines, banning military-style assault weapons, and registering guns. And if the question is limited to background checks as the only additional gun law, 68 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong gun law that includes background checks on all gun sales.

Illinois voters are more concerned with protecting people from gun violence. Fifty-nine percent want stronger gun laws, including 48 percent of gun owners. And indicating how far they are willing to go to keep people safe, by a 14 point margin, Illinois voters believe that it is more important to protect people from gun violence than it is to protect the rights of gun owners (53-39).

This is not to say the people of Illinois are anti-gun. They are not. One-third of voters report having at least 1 gun in their household. Nor are the gun owners of Illinois more Republican: 44 percent are Democrats and 46 percent are Republicans. As we’ll see more of below, common-sense gun laws cut across party and gun-ownership lines.

Voters in Illinois are ready to do something about gun violence.

If conceal and carry is required, there is broad and deep support for a range of regulations. To be clear, most don’t even want conceal and carry at all: 53 percent oppose allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public. But if conceal and carry must be the law of the land, voters were very clear about wanting a strong law with a range of restrictions. The table below shows that a range of provisions to conceal and carry receive strong support, including requiring those who want to carry a weapon to attend mandatory safety classes, forbidding concealed weapons in schools, casinos, buses, colleges, and any place the serves alcohol, and requiring those who want to carry to show a clean record and demonstrate a good reason to need it.

Figure 2 – Total favor each provision of conceal and carry


Voters across the board--independents, Republicans, gun owners--support stronger gun regulations. Voters want more than a strong conceal and carry law. They support additional regulations on guns and gun ownership. The highest—with near unanimous support—was background checks and mandatory reporting when guns are lost or stolen. Banning military style assault weapons and limiting ammunitions magazines to 10 rounds also received strong support. The strong and consistent support shown in the table below illustrates that most of these provisions are simply common-sense to voters.

Figure 3 – Total favor each additional gun law


This post was written by GQRR President Al Quinlan and GQRR Analyst Angela Kuefler.