The majority of Texans support stronger laws to prevent gun violence.
Eighty-five percent of Texas residents recently said they favor background checks on all gun sales, according to a poll released Sunday by Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Additionally, 79% of Texas Republicans and 65% of National Rifle Association members in the state said they prefer background checks, according to the poll. Seventy-nine percent of Texans also support denying convicted domestic abusers access to firearms.
"Even in states with long, proud traditions of gun ownership like Texas, talking about ways to reduce gun violence does not have to be a political liability -- far from it," Pia Carusone, senior adviser of Americans for Responsible Solutions, said in a statement. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, created the gun-violence prevention group after she was shot outside of an Arizona supermarket in 2011.
Federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers and to maintain records of the sales. But unlicensed private sellers aren’t required to observe the same policies. About 40% of firearms sold in the country are transferred by such private sellers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The House last week approved a bipartisan amendment to boost funding for background checks. Legislators attached the measure to a 2015 appropriations bill, which also passed. Next, the Senate will likely consider its own version of the measure before conferencing with the House to produce a final piece of legislation later this year. If signed into law, the amendment would increase funding for the criminal background checks system by $19.5 million.
The poll surveyed 1,000 Texans, who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election, between April 21 and April 28. The organization published the results in the days after two videos went public of employees at Sonic Drive-In and Chili's Grill & Bar asking armed members of the San Antonio chapter of Open Carry Texas to leave the premises because they wanted to dine with their weapons. Consequently, both national chains last week enacted new gun policies restricting armed citizens from entering their stores.
Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis earlier this year went public with her support of expanding gun rights in her state, where the law currently bans residents from the open-carry of handguns in public. Her opinion contradicts the general sentiment of her fellow Democrats in the deeply red state, but follows the view of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, her Republican gubernatorial rival.
Forty-four percent of Americans said they opposed open-carry laws, and 39% supported such legislation, according to a Huffington Post/YouGov poll released Monday.
The Lone Star state ranked 33 out of 50 states with an “F” grade on the 2013 scorecard published in December. Texas enacted several laws that weakened gun regulation, including not requiring concealed weapon permit applicants to provide their social security numbers and eliminating certain misdemeanors as disqualifying factors for a concealed weapon permit.