Polls: Florida voters want more gun control, oppose arming teachers

4:04 p.m Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 Nation & World
Students from Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts at a demonstration against gun violence at West Palm Beach City Hall on Friday February 23, 2018. (Megan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida voters overwhelmingly favor stricter gun control laws, according to polls released Wednesday by Florida Atlantic University and Quinnipiac University in the wake of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland.

Both polls also find most Floridians oppose the idea of arming teachers, an idea floated by President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership of the Florida Legislature.

» RELATED: Post coverage of the Broward County shooting

In the poll by FAU’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative, 70 percent of Florida voters agree that “gun control laws should be made stricter,” with 87 percent favoring expanded background checks for gun purchases, 78 percent in favor of raising the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21 and 69 percent supporting a ban on “assault-style rifles.”

In the Quinnipiac poll, 65 percent of the state’s voters support “stricter gun laws,” 96 percent favor expanded background checks and 78 percent say the age to buy a gun should be raised to 21. A “nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons” is favored by 62 percent, and 53 percent favor a ban on all semiautomatic rifles.

»RELATED: The latest in Florida political news

FAU’s poll found 56 percent opposition to “arming teachers,” while the Quinnipiac poll found 56 percent opposed to “allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds.”

Trump’s response to the shooting — which included visits to hospitalized survivors and law enforcement officers in Broward County two days after the incident — gets negative ratings from 48 percent of voters in the FAU poll and 50 percent in the Quinnipiac poll. Approval of Trump’s response was measured at 34 percent by FAU and 39 percent by Quinnipiac.

Background checks, the most popular measure in both polls, are already required under federal law when a gun is sold by a dealer or anyone “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. The requirement does not apply to gun sales between private parties or transfers of guns between family members. A 2017 study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine found 22 percent of people who bought guns within the previous two years reported doing so without a background check.

The FAU poll also finds Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson holding a within-the-margin-of-error lead of 40 percent to 38 percent over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a hypothetical 2018 Senate race. Quinnipiac gives Nelson a 46-to-42 percent edge over Scott.

When told of Scott’s A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, 44 percent of voters in the FAU poll say they are less likely to vote for Scott while 26 percent say the NRA rating makes them more likely to back Scott.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 50 percent of voters say the NRA supports policies that are “bad for Florida,” with 35 percent saying NRA-backed policies are good for the state.

Also in the Quinnipiac poll, 63 percent of voters say it’s too easy to buy a gun in Florida, and 56 percent say Florida would be “less safe” if more people carried guns.

When asked about what would reduce gun violence in schools, 51 percent of Quinnipiac respondents said increased security, 32 percent said stricter gun laws and 12 percent said armed teachers.

When FAU asked for the “major contributor of mass shootings,” 39 percent said the availability of guns, 24 percent said lack of mental health care and 18 percent pointed to violent media or video games.

Quinnipiac’s poll of 1,156 Florida voters, conducted Friday through Monday with a 3.6 percent margin of error, found 56 percent of respondents saying the Parkland shooting had made them more likely to support stricter gun control laws.

The FAU poll of 800 voters, conducted Friday through Sunday, also has a 3.6 percent margin of error.