Poll: Teens Back Gun Regulation


Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) — About nine out of 10 high school students support gun-control measures such as criminal background checks and mandatory trigger locks, according to a survey released Monday.

The same number of students said they favored requiring a safety course and a license to purchase a handgun, and 96 percent supported registering the weapons when purchased so they could be traced if necessary, said Dennis Gilbert, a sociology professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. who designed the survey with his students.

``American high school students have a shockingly high level of exposure to guns and gun violence,'' Gilbert said in an interview.

The polling firm Zogby International conducted the nationwide telephone survey during three days in June by calling 1,005 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Students in the East and South were most likely to support gun control, followed by those in the West and Midwest, the poll found.

A quarter of the students said they or someone close to them had been shot in a situation unrelated to military combat. The proportion that rose to nearly half for students living in cities with populations greater than half a million.

One junior at an urban high school in the Midwest said a close friend had been shot dead while playing basketball, while others reported hunting accidents and other firearm mishaps, the study said.

While four out of five students said the government should keep guns away from criminals even if it becomes harder for everyone else to purchase them, the same number said Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms.

Gilbert said the students were more likely than adults to support both increased regulation and the right to own a gun.

``Maybe in their world there's just a lot more guns around and it seems more compelling to them,'' he said.

Nearly half the students said they thought it would be easy for someone their age to get a gun in their neighborhood, but only 6 percent described their schools as unsafe.

The survey also found:

—More than 80 percent of high school students have discussed gun control in school, at home or with friends.

—Of the girls questioned, 79 percent favored stricter gun laws, compared with 52 percent of boys. Girls were also more likely to become involved in gun-control activities.

The Alliance for Justice, a coalition of advocacy groups perhaps best known for monitoring federal judicial nominations, released the study as part of a campaign against gun violence.

The poll, financed by Hamilton College's Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, had an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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On the Net:

Alliance for Justice: http://www.afj.org/