With state lawmakers looking for ways to make schools safer, a new poll shows Florida voters believe arming teachers and school staff is not a good way to protect students from school shootings like the one that killed 17 students in Parkland two weeks ago.
A poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University shows voters disapprove of arming school personnel by a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent. When the poll focused on voters with children under the age of 18 who are in public schools, still half of those surveyed didn’t agree with the concept, but that margin tightened up a little with a 53 percent to 43 percent margin.
When asked what would make schools safer and protect students from gun violence, 51 percent of the voters say “increased security at school entrances,” while 32 percent say stricter gun laws would increase school safety and 12 percent say arming teachers would make schools safer.
The Quinnipiac survey also shows a majority of voters support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic assault style weapons, but the margin depends on how the question is asked. When asked if they support a ban on “assault weapons, Florida voters support a ban by 62 percent to 33 percent. In a separate question with different wording, 53 percent support a nationwide ban of all “semi-automatic rifles,” while 42 percent oppose such a ban.
“The notion that we are bitterly divided on political matters – the case for past decades – has found an exception to that rule. Florida voters – be they young or old, white or black, man or woman – have a common enemy,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “Floridians are strongly united that more needs to be done to reign in guns, especially the type of gun used this month to massacre 17 people in Parkland.”
Of the voters surveyed, 65 percent support “stricter gun laws,” while 29 percent oppose them. Among the tougher laws the poll shows voters supporting are:
- 96 – 3 percent for requiring background checks for all gun buyers;
- 62 – 34 percent for a nationwide ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds;
- 87 – 10 percent for a mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases;
- 78 – 20 percent for requiring that all gun buyers be at least 21 years old;
- 89 – 8 percent for allowing police or family members to petition a judge to remove guns from a person who may be at risk of violent behavior;
- 92 – 6 percent for banning gun ownership by anyone who has had a restraining order for stalking, domestic abuse or other reasons.
“Depending on how questions are asked, large majorities support efforts to restrict gun purchases; to require background checks for buyers and to ban certain types of guns,” Brown said. “These numbers show remarkable agreement across the electorate, the kind not seen very often these days.”
Other findings in the Quinnipiac poll, 63 percent of the voters surveyed say it’s “too easy” to buy a gun, while 28 percent it’s “about right.”
The survey also shows voters believe that if more people carried guns, 56 percent of voters say Florida would be “less safe,” while 34 percent say the state would be “safer.”
Voters give Gov. Rick Scott a 42 percent approval rating for his handling of the issue of gun violence, while 45 percent disapprove.
Voters disapprove 54 – 40 percent of President Donald Trump’s handling of gun violence and disapprove 50 – 39 percent of the president’s response to the Parkland school massacre.
From February 23 – 26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,156 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points, including the design effect. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.