Young voters fear for their safety from gun violence and mass shootings and believe they are more likely than not to experience gun violence in their lifetime. Though the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward, most young voters believe gun laws in America are still not restrictive enough and disapprove of political leaders who fail to be bold enough in their efforts to stop gun deaths. Young voters say a number of changes would make them feel safer from gun violence, and the more bold a candidate’s stances are in their proposals to curb gun violence, the more likely young voters are to support them electorally.
These are the key findings from a new national survey of 811 likely voters under the age of 35 conducted for March For Our Lives by Change Research from October 28-31, 2022. This is critical information for campaigns as young voters are more likely than others in the March For Our Lives coalition to vote on Election Day.
Here are the toplines:
majority of voters under 35 report they frequently or occasionally worry about their personal safety from gun violence, and as many (52%) worry about their safety from a mass shooting.
of voters under 35 are more likely to support a candidate who wants to pass background checks, raise the age to buy a gun to 21, and pass an assault weapons ban.
of voters under 35 trust Republicans to handle gun laws.
of young voters believe there is at least a fifty percent chance that they will be a victim of gun violence, including 13% who report already experiencing gun violence.
majority say there is at least a fifty percent chance that they will be a victim of a mass shooting.
a majority of young people said that having an armed police officer on campus would NOT make them feel safe.
of voters under 35, including 42% of Democrats and 75% of pure independents, approve of how Biden and Democrats are handling gun laws.
of voters under 35, trust Republicans to handle gun laws.
young voters believe our leaders in Congress need to be more bold when it comes to addressing the gun crisis.
The More Bold Lawmakers Are Addressing Gun Violence, the Greater the Reward
The more ambitious a candidate’s gun policies, the more likely young voters are to support them.
On balance, young voters are net less likely to support a candidate who says we need to fund more armed school resource officers but opposes other gun safety measures. There was also not a net benefit to a candidate who only supports universal background checks but does not support other gun safety measures (38% more likely, 38% less likely) or a candidate who supports universal background checks and raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21-year-olds but opposes additional measures (42% more likely, 39% less likely). But a 57% majority are more likely to support a candidate who wants to pass background checks, raise the age to buy a gun to 21 and pass an assault weapons ban (versus just 33% less likely), and a large 42% say they are much more likely to support such a candidate.
In order to reach the disillusioned young voters still on the table in these last days of the campaign, candidates should lean heavily into bold plans to curb gun violence with their communications to voters under 35. With that being said, majorities said that they and other young people would feel safer if each of the proposals to address gun safety tested in this poll were passed, with the exception of funding more armed school resource officers (48% safer).