That may be a headline you never thought you’d read, but according a new survey of Tennessee registered voters conducted by Middle Tennessee State University, it’s true.
When asked if they favored “laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns,” a surprising 85 percent said yes. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 83 percent of those surveyed favored “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks.”
On other questions, the results were not as unexpected. Most Tennesseans surveyed think it is more important to “protect the right to own guns” (69 percent) than to “control gun ownership” (23 percent). And most Tennesseans think gun ownership does more to “protect people from becoming victims of crime” (63 percent) than to “put people’s safety at risk” (24 percent).
“Tennesseans generally favor preserving access to guns, and pretty passionately so,” said Ken Blake, director of the poll at MTSU. “But there appears to be some common ground between gun rights supporters and gun control supporters when it comes to regulating private and gun show sales and sales to the mentally ill.”
The poll randomly surveyed 603 registered voters statewide by telephone October 25th-27th and has an error margin of 4 percentage points.
Blake added that, “solid majorities of both gun rights and gun control supporters favor regulating private and gun show sales and preventing sales to the mentally ill. Specifically, 78 percent of gun rights supporters and 96 percent of gun control supporters, favor regulating gun sales among private individuals and at gun shows.
Similarly, 84 percent of gun rights supporters, and 90 percent of gun control supporters favor laws preventing gun sales to the mentally ill.”
Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU poll, said these patterns among Tennessee voters are similar to patterns found in recent national polling.
With any luck, the General Assembly will consider this poll the next time they consider passing more NRA-written legislation. Turns out most Tennesseans, including gun owners, favor a more responsible approach.