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Residents of state are more polarized on issue than nationally based on political party affiliation.

A majority of Oregonians support stricter gun laws, according to a new poll by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT
 - Owners of the Northwest Armory gun shop in Southeast Portland were among those protesting recent regulations passed by the Oregon Legislature.

The nonpartisan independent research group on Thursday released data reporting 59% of survey respondents say they believe the state's firearms laws should be stricter, which is in line with an April 2021 Pew Research poll finding 60% of Americans want stricter gun laws.

COURTESY PHOTO: PPB - Authorities seized a semiautomatic handgun after a man shot at pedestrians and cars in the Lents neighborhood on May 11.

The beliefs center surveyed 1,446 Oregon adults between June 2 and 11 about gun regulations.

Last month, an 18-year-old man in Uvalde, Texas, used an AR-15-style rifle he purchased legally to kill 19 children and two adults and injure 17 others in an attack on an elementary school. But with that tragedy so fresh, open-ended questions about guns were not asked during the survey because it was felt the answers would be unproductive, according to an email from Amaury Vogel, associate executive director of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center.

Among the groups most likely to want stricter gun laws are urbanites, women, college graduates, people 75 or older and people with household incomes above $100,000 per year.

Slightly more than half of respondents, or 54%, believe making it harder for people to obtain firearms would result in fewer mass shootings.

The survey found that nearly half of gun owners, 46%, think firearms laws should be stricter in the U.S., and 43% believe there would be fewer mass shootings if it was harder for people to legally obtain guns.

Women are more likely than men to want stricter gun laws, and also less likely to own a gun.

In Oregon, women are also less likely than men to own a gun, 25% compared to 41%.

This is again in line with the national level: a June 2021 Pew poll found that 22% of women and 39% of men own guns.

COURTESY PHOTO: PPB - Three black handguns, packaged fentanyl pills, packaged crack cocaine, and some of the money seized by police last November in the North Park Blocks.

Deschutes County resident Pat Minney was among the survey respondents.

She told The Bulletin there are "way too many guns" and would like to see a ban on military style weapons and stronger background checks. She said she's long held those beliefs, but she's watched her husband, a military veteran, soften his pro-gun stance in recent years in response to mass shootings.

"Ever since the shooting in Springfield and the shootings out East, we've just watched it get worse and worse," Minney said, referring to the 1998 Thurston High School shooting.

The survey found 90% of respondents who identify as Democrats believe gun laws should be stricter, while only 24% of those who identify as Republicans feel the same. The results suggest Oregon is slightly more polarized on this issue than the national average. The April, 2021, Pew poll found that 81% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans favored more strict federal gun laws.

Also surveyed was Washington County resident and retired Intel employee Jim Ourada, who opposes stricter gun laws and believes every household should be armed.

"I live in unincorporated Washington County," he told The Bulletin. "It's pretty safe out here, but if you walk 6 miles to the east, it's practically a war zone. There's lots of shootings, every single day, every single night. But you know what, no one ever goes after them. What am I supposed to do, sit here and take the bullet for them?"

Ourada asked, why strengthen background checks when they're "pretty strong already."

"The criminals, they don't use background checks, do they?" Ourada said. "The gang-bangers in downtown Portland, they aren't doing background checks, because most of them can't own a weapon anyway."

Oregon Values & Beliefs Center methodology

The survey was conducted online among Oregonians 18 and older from professionally maintained online panels. The polling group said its surveys are within the statistically valid margin of error.

The nonprofit is building a large research panel of Oregonians to ensure that all voices are represented in discussions of public policy in a valid and statistically reliable way.

Selected panelists earn points for their participation, which can be redeemed for cash or donated to a charity. To learn more, visit oregonvbc.org/about-the-panel.


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