Elon Poll: Majority in N.C. favor gun control laws

North Carolinians also give favorable marks to Gov. Pat McCrory while showing less approval of the General Assembly's job performance.


More than half of North Carolina residents favor a variety of measures to regulate gun purchases in the United States, with the greatest support shown toward mandatory background checks for all individuals buying a firearm, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

Nine out of 10 people in the state say they support background checks. Nearly as many (83 percent) support waiting periods before citizens can purchase handguns, and banning the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles (56 percent) and limiting the number of rounds of ammunition in clips or magazines (55 percent) also have the backing of a majority of North Carolina residents.

Democrats, women, African Americans, and poll respondents with college degrees or higher were the most supportive of the measures.

Republicans generally support background checks (91 percent) and waiting periods (76 percent) but oppose banning assault rifles (only 38 percent support such a measure) and limiting the number of rounds in a magazine (35 percent support). More than half of all men (51 percent) oppose clip limits and bans on semi-automatic guns (56 percent).

The live-caller telephone poll of 891 residents was conducted Feb. 24-28, 2013, and has a margin of error of 3.28 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general with numbers that included both landlines and cellular phones.

“Support for background checks and waiting periods before purchasing a gun is very broad in North Carolina, but proposals to ban certain types of guns or large capacity magazines is less appealing to many citizens,” said Elon University Poll director Kenneth Fernandez.


Newly elected Republican Gov. Pat McCrory continues to receive high job approval numbers. In office less than two months, he has a job approval rating of 42 percent, compared to just 26 percent of respondents who disapprove of the way he handles the office.

However, one third of respondents said they were unsure of whether they approve or disapprove of the governor. Support falls along party lines. Sixty-one percent of Republicans approve of his performance, while only 26 percent of Democrats said the same. Among independents, McCrory’s job approval number is at 39 percent.

“Because the governor has held office for less than two months, it is not surprising that almost 32 percent of respondents said they were not sure whether they approved or disapproved of the governor’s performance,” Fernandez said.

The General Assembly is a different story.

Only 33 percent of those surveyed said they approve of the job the state legislature is doing. Forty-one percent disapproved and 26 percent are unsure. Support for the GOP-controlled General Assembly was much higher among Republicans than Democrats (44 percent compared to 25 percent).


Nearly three out of four North Carolinians (72 percent) support the idea of requiring voters to show photo identification before being allowed to vote. The findings are consistent to an Elon University Poll conducted in March 2012 that found 74 percent of those surveyed supporting a photo identification requirement for voters.

This year respondents were asked if they possessed a driver’s license or other form of government-issued photo identification. More than 97 percent of respondents said they have some form of photo identification. In the few cases a respondent said they did not have a government issued photo ID, most were young (21 or younger), but a quarter of those without an ID were 65 or older.


The Elon University Poll also found that just over half of North Carolina residents (51 percent) believe immigrants today are a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills, while 38 percent felt immigrants are a burden because they use public services.

Eighty percent of respondents would support a program that provided undocumented immigrants living in the United States a pathway to become citizens if they meet certain requirements such as background checks and paying any fines or taxes.

Almost 89 percent of Democrats support such a pathway, and though Republicans also indicated they favor a program, that support was less intense at 69 percent. African Americans (63 percent) were more likely to see immigrants as a benefit to the state, as were respondents between the ages of 18 and 30 (as a group, 62 percent support a citizenship pathway).

“Our poll results show what many people have known for a while, which is that many North Carolinians have a generally positive view of immigrants,” Fernandez said. “One reason for this may be because North Carolina’s agricultural sector relies so heavily on immigrant labor. Another reason is that the size of the immigrant population in North Carolina is modest compared to many other states such as California, Arizona, Florida and Texas.”