October 12, 2017

Supporters of stricter gun laws are less likely to contact elected officials

Large majorities of Americans support several specific policies intended to limit access to guns, including expanded background checks and restrictions on sales to the mentally ill. But relatively few Americans actually contact public officials to express their views, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the spring.

Just 15% of all U.S. adults say they have ever contacted a public official to express their opinion on gun policy. About one-in-five gun owners (21%) have done this, including 9% who say they’ve done so in the past year. That compares with 12% of non-gun owners who have ever reached out to officials about gun policy, including 5% who have done so in the past year.

Furthermore, Americans who believe gun laws should be less strict are more likely to contact public officials on the issue than those who think gun laws should be stricter or are about right (22% have ever done so, compared with 15% of those who favor stricter laws and 10% of those who think laws are about right). Among gun owners, 19% of those who want less strict laws have contacted a public official in the past year, compared with 9% of those who want stricter laws.

The Center’s survey found other indications that gun owners are more politically engaged than non-gun owners. For example, while only 16% of U.S. adults say they’ve ever given money to an organization that takes a position on gun policy, gun owners are again more likely than non-gun owners to say they have done so. Among gun owners, 28% say they have ever given money to an organization like this, including 12% of who have done so in the past year. The same is true for just 10% of non-owners, including 6% who have done so in the past year.

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Social Values, Gun Policy

  1. Photo of Baxter Oliphant

    is a research associate focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of John Gramlich

    is a writer/editor at Pew Research Center.