Public Support For Background Checks Remains Strong, 100 Days After Senate Failed To Pass Measure

On April 17, the Senate failed to pass an amendment to institute comprehensive background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows and on the Internet, despite overwhelming public support for the measure. A little more than 100 days later, universal background checks retains popular across the country.

Prior to the vote on the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, polls showed as much as 91 percent public support for the measure. Since the measure failed to meet the 60-vote threshold in a 54–46 vote, several polling firms have tracked state-level support for requiring background checks for all gun sales. ThinkProgress was able to find 24 states with polls conducted over the last 100 days. The latest polls reveal continued wide support throughout the country, from deeply conservative states such as Wyoming and Texas to swing states such as Ohio and Florida.

There is clear popular support for the measure in the four states where Democratic senators voted against it. Voters approve of universal background checks by 79 percent in Heidi Heitkamp’s home state of North Dakota, 60 percent in Mark Begich’s Alaska and Mark Pryor’s Arkansas, and 58 percent in Max Baucus’ Montana. In New Hampshire, where Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte has come under fire for voting against the bill, 76 percent of voters support the measure.

Of the 22 polls that broke down results by partisan affiliation, Republicans showed majority support for the measure in 17 states. A majority of independents supported it in all but two of the states polled, and Democrats overwhelmingly supported it by over 80 percent in all 22 states.


Polling from Pew Research, Fox News, and Quinnipiac in the months following the failed Senate vote have also shown consistently high support nationally, at above 80 percent.

Sources: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.