Texas Survey Reveals Overwhelming Support for Gun Safety Restrictions

Support Transcends Politics, Says Report from University of Houston and Texas Southern University

Photo showing a small gun cradled in a person’s hands
A new Texas survey reveals support for controls on guns and gun ownership to be widespread across the state. Eight out of 10 survey participants agreed a restraining order for stalking or domestic violence should prohibit gun ownership. More than three-quarters favored criminal background checks before purchase, with no exemptions for gun shows or private sales. Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska for Pexels

A new Texas survey reveals overwhelming support for tightening controls on guns and gun ownership. It also demonstrates the support is widespread across a diverse range of socio-demographic and partisan groups.

The findings come from the “Texas Trends Survey 2022 – Gun Safety” report, released today by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and Texas Southern University Executive Master of Public Administration Program in the Barbara Jordan–Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs.

“Despite Texas’ reputation as a gun loving state, Texans across the board support gun safety proposals at the state level as well as many of the main provisions passed through the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. While debates about the balance between Second Amendment rights and gun safety will continue to flare, the survey provides no doubt there are areas of consensus,” said Renée Cross, senior executive director of the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Support for proposals implementing stronger gun restrictions in Texas is widespread. Eight out of 10 (80%) survey participants approved of a proposal to ban gun ownership by anyone under a restraining order for stalking or domestic violence. More than three-quarters (78%) of all respondents favored criminal background checks for gun buyers with no exemption for gun shows or private sales. Almost as many (74%) said judges should be empowered to remove guns from people who impose a threat to themselves or others. More than seven in 10 (71%) Texans supported raising the age to 21 for purchasing an assault rifle, up from the current minimum age requirement of 18.

“As we are reminded in the news daily, we live in a politically polarized time. And yet, majority support for one of the most contentious areas of public policy – gun safety measures – is found across demographic and political lines,” said Mark Jones, senior research associate, University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and professor of political science, Rice University.

By the Numbers

Restraining orders: Among the 80% of respondents who said ‘yes’ to a ban on gun ownership for individuals under restraining orders for stalking or domestic abuse were 90% of the survey’s Democrats, 71% of its independents, and 74% of its Republicans.

Background checks: A check for criminal history should be required of gun buyers, with no exception for gun shows or private sales, said 78% of total survey respondents (90% of the survey’s Democrats, 73% of its independents, and 70% of its Republicans).

“Red flag” laws: Overall, 74% of respondents believed judges should be empowered to take guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. That support included 89% of participating Democrats, 72% of independents, and 59% of Republicans.

Minimum age: To buy any firearm, 69% of respondents said the purchaser should be at least 21 (current Texas law sets the minimum age at 18). This includes 87% of the survey’s Democrats, 65% of independents, and 52% of Republicans.

Assault rifles: The survey also considered issues focused specifically on the purchase and ownership of assault rifles. Respondents reported the following opinions.

  • Purchase age – 71% of overall respondents favored a minimum age of 21 for the purchase of an assault rifle. This includes 87% of Democrats, 66% of independents, and 56% of Republicans. A significant gender divide was present among Republicans, with 74% of Republican women supporting, compared to 39% of Republican men.
  • Waiting period – 69% favored a waiting period between purchase and receipt of an assault rifle. This included 85% of the survey’s Democrats and 62% of independents. Among the 54% of Republicans in favor, another gender gap saw 70% of Republican women supported a waiting period but only 35% of Republican men.
  • Sales ban – 55% of survey participants were in support of a ban on sales of assault rifles. More than eight in 10 (83%) Democrats favor a ban on the sales of assault rifles compared to 49% of independents and 29% of Republicans
  • Ownership ban – 56% of Texans supported a ban on the ownership of assault rifles. While this proposal garners majority support overall, it does show a substantial political divide, with 81% of Democrats, 46% of independents, and 29% of Republicans supporting such a ban. 

Reported by race and gender: More Black respondents supported the survey’s gun control proposals, followed by Latinos, then whites. Across ethnicities and races, women were more supportive of gun controls than men.

2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

On June 25, the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into federal law. Of the five components evaluated in the survey, support among survey respondents ranged from 59% to 75%, including enhanced background checks (75%), funding for school safety (75%), and a ban on straw purchases of guns (72%).

“In studying the survey responses, we repeatedly found confirmation that room for agreement exists even among the much-debated gun-related issues in Texas. This gives opportunity for both sides to listen and come together for progress,” said Michael O. Adams, director of the Executive Master of Public Administration Program, Texas Southern University.

About the Survey

For further examine survey results according to age, gender and political affiliation, see the complete “Texas Trends Survey 2022 – Gun Safety” report.

This latest survey is one component in this year’s contributions to the five-year Texas Trends project that measures shifts in opinions and policy preferences within Texas’ changing population. This year’s first Texas Trends report examined the state’s general election. Upcoming 2022 releases will take a look at the economy, criminal justice and health care.

Data for the “Texas Trends Survey 2022 – Gun Safety” survey was fielded Aug. 11–29 by YouGov from 2,140 respondents representing Texas’ evolving population of white, Black, Latino and Asian residents. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish, and has a confidence interval of +/-2.1.