Gun Regulations and Policies

Oregonians provide their opinions related to gun regulations, policies, and let us know where they might agree on these important issues.

From July 8–16, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey to determine Oregonians’ thoughts on guns and gun control. The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q36–43, and Q9). 

The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q36–43, and Q9). The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q14–Q24).  Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.    

Gun Ownership

One in three Oregonians indicate that they own a gun (33%), compared to 57% who say they do not own a gun (Q42).

  • Oregon men report higher rates of gun owner ownership than women (40%, 27%).
  • Possibly related to the cost of guns and associated licensing fees, Oregonians who own their homes or make at least $100,000 per year are more likely to own a gun than Oregonians who rent or make less than $50,000 a year (41% vs. 22%, and 47% vs. 24%). 
  • Those who live in the Tri-County area and the Willamette Valley have lower rates of gun ownership than those living in other parts of the state (28-32% compared to 40%). 

Four in five Oregonians feel there should be some level of gun control (83%). There is strong agreement on this among Oregonians and no demographic category drops below 66% (Q40).

Oregon women are united in wanting at least some level gun control in Oregon (88%, compared to 79% of men).

Those with a college degree or more are more likely than Oregonians with a high school education or less to be in favor of some gun control (91% vs. 75%).

Oregonians making more than $100,000 a year are a bit more likely to be in favor of some level of gun control than Oregonians who make less than $100,000 a year (91% vs. 82%). 

Should Gun Laws be More or Less Strict?

The majority of Oregonians think gun laws in Oregon should be more strict than they are today (56%) (Q36).

Support for stricter laws is highest among those who live in the Tri-County area, with 64% wanting more strict gun laws compared to 52% and 47% of those living in the Willamette Valley or the rest of the state. Oregon women show stronger support for stricter gun laws compared to men (62%, 49%). Oregonians with a four-year college degree are more likely than those with less formal education to support stricter gun laws (72% vs. 42-54%).

A lack of trust in the Supreme Court of the United States goes hand-in-hand with a desire for more strict gun laws in Oregon.

Residents with little to no trust in the Supreme Court are more likely to support stricter gun laws compared to those who have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the SCOTUS (69% vs. 30%). 

Many Oregonians want stricter gun laws and regulations, as they feel gun access is too easy, while other Oregonians feel that more regulations and laws will do little to help the gun violence crisis in the United States. Many Oregonians also feel that existing gun laws are not being enforced consistently (Q43). 

“Stricter laws should of been in place years ago.”

Woman, age 55-64, Clatsop County, Native American, American Indian,
or Alaska Native

“Guns meant for war should not be sold period. Criminals will always find a way to get a gun if they want one. We are the only country where these things happen on a regular basis.”

Woman, age 65-74, Willamette Valley, white

“Guns are a tremendous problem in this country and I am fine with the 2nd amendment right to own a gun, as I do. Politicians are too indebted to the gun industry and the NRA, it is always about money and political backing.”

Man, age 75+, Deschutes County, white

“Additional gun laws will do little to stem the disease of gun violence in our nation. People’s hearts must change for their behavior to change. The breakdown is really due to the breakdown in the family, our schools and our focus on our individual and not corporate values.”

Man, age 65-74, Multnomah, white

“In order for people to understand gun laws and gun protocols you need to learn first what your state already has in place and then learn why those laws are or aren’t enforced. There’s no point adding more if they get thrown out of court. Also, the 21 age requirement should be for civilians not military personnel.”

Woman, age 45-54, Morrow County, white

“Laws are only as good as enforcement, so if have stricter gun laws but don’t enforce those laws, it’s a waste of time!”

Woman, age 65-74, Clackamas County, Native American, American Indian, 
or Alaska Native and white

Oregonians Views Match National Average

Oregonians’ thoughts on gun laws closely align with the rest of the country’s. In a Pew Research Center survey from April 2021[1], 53% of Americans thought gun laws should be more strict in the United States than they are today, which is only a three-point difference from the 56% of Oregonians who think gun laws should be more strict in Oregon as of July, 2022 (Q36).  

22% of Oregonians think gun laws are about right in Oregon, while in April of 20211, 32% of Americans thought gun laws in the United States were about right.

Strong Support for Popular Possible Gun Regulations

A strong majority of Oregonians support background checks for all gun purchases (88%); preventing the sale of firearms to those with certain mental health conditions (88%); expanding screening and treatment for people with mental illness diagnoses (88%); and raising the minimum purchase eligibility age to 21 (81%) as policies related to gun access (Q37A-E).

  • 88% of Oregonians either strongly (76%) or somewhat (12%) support requiring background checks on all gun sales (Q37B).
    • Those living in the Tri-County area, Willamette Valley, and the rest of Oregon are in agreement in supporting this proposal (86-89%). 
    • Oregonians with at least some college education are a bit more likely to support this policy than Oregonians with a high school education or below (89-93% compared to 82%) 
    • Regardless of political affiliation, a clear majority of Oregonians support background checks on all gun sales, including 82% of Republicans, 84% of Independent or non-affiliated voters, and 97% of Democrats.
  • Additionally, 88% of Oregonians either strongly (74%) or somewhat (14%) support preventing sales of all firearms to people who a mental health provider has deemed dangerous (Q37C). 
    • Women and men are in agreement on this proposed policy (89%, 87%), as well as all political affiliations (Democrats: 95%; Republicans: 84%; Independent/other: 85%), and those living in the Tri-County area, Willamette Valley and the rest of the state (87-89%). 
    • Although the strongest support lies with those with at least a four-year college degree, a large majority of all education-attainment levels support this policy (81-94%).
  • 88% of Oregonians also either strongly (71%) or somewhat (16%) support expanding screening and treatment for people with mental illness diagnoses (Q37A).
    • Oregon women and men are in alignment with strong support for expanding screening for those with mental health diagnoses (89%, 87%), as well as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents (83%, 95%, 86%), and those living in the Tri-County area, Willamette Valley, and the rest of the state (86-89%).
  • 81% of Oregonians either strongly (66%) or somewhat (15%) support limiting eligibility to purchase a gun to people aged 21 and older (Q37D).
    • No demographic category dips below 62% in supporting this policy, and most demographic categories show at least 80% support. 
    • Oregonians without school-aged children are slightly more likely to support this policy (83% vs. 75%). 
  • 66% of Oregonians either strongly (53%) or somewhat (13%) support banning assault-style weapons, while 28% of Oregonians either somewhat (9%) or strongly (19%) oppose this policy (Q37E).
    • Although most registered Republicans and Democrats support requiring background checks on all gun sales (82%, 97%) (Q37B), there are strong differences of opinion when it comes to assault-style weapons, with 38% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats supporting a ban.
    • Oregonians living in the Tri-County area are more likely than Oregonians living in the Willamette Valley and the rest of the state to support this policy (72% vs. 60-63%). 
    • Three in four women in Oregon would like to see assault-style weapons banned in Oregon (73% compared to 58% of men).
    • Those with a college degree or above are more likely to support this policy than Oregonians with some college or high school or below (78% vs. 57-64%).
    • Oregonians who have not very much or no confidence in the Supreme Court are much more likely to support this policy than Oregonians who have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the SCOTUS (78% vs. 44%). 

When asked an open-ended question about what types of gun control they would support, Oregonians express support for policies like barring those with a history of domestic abuse from owning firearms, establishing gun licenses that require gun-use training, and limiting magazine sizes (Q41).

“I think common sense gun control that is widely favored by the public and is in place in other countries is perfectly fine, such as strict permit and license requirements, background checks, regulation of ammunition sales, etc. People who have histories of domestic abuse should be barred from firearm ownership as this is one of the greatest predictors of gun violence.

Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, white

“Treating a gun like a car: tags insurance license and renewals plus outlawing automatic guns and the means to make guns automatic outside of the military (not even police).” 

Woman, age 65-74, Lincoln County, Asian, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, and 
Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native

“Additional screenings, backgrounds checks and safety training on properly using guns.” 

Woman, age 45-54, Jackson County, Black or African American and white

“A Gun control that works on a local, state and federal level to prevent the sale of firearms to anyone who has a highly dangerous and illegal back ground with weapons or history of violence against another person or has been involved in assaults or violent person to person crimes.”

Man, age 45-54, Multnomah County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and White 

We’re spiraling downward with all the gun crimes going on now. It’s time to grow up and honor the full text of the constitution and enforce strict regulations.”

Woman, age 55-64, Clackamas County, white

“Ban on assault weapons, restriction on magazine size, must be 21, background check on all forms of sales, red flag laws.”

Woman, age 65-74, Lane County, white

“Banning assault rifles, background checks, preventing gun sales to those with documented mental illnesses and have been deemed dangerous by medical professionals.”

Woman, age 30-44, Multnomah County, white

“Treat it the same as a driver’s license, require proof of training/proficiency before handling and allow permission to be removed if enough rules are violated.”

Man, age 30-44, Washington County, white 

Age at 21, except for hunting rifle, with classes and passing certification, a ban of assault/military style automatic weapons, a limit on the large amounts of ammunition, background checks for any person that is purchasing a gun or is being given a gun.”

Woman, age 65-74, Lane County, Native American, American Indian, or 
Alaska Native and white

“No civilian would have a military style gun in their possession. I see no reason for civil law enforcement to have automatic weapons that are made to kill large numbers of people. All guns should be registered with local law enforcement stating the purpose for which they will be needed and possibly used.”

Woman, age 75+, Wallowa County, white

Did Recent Events Change Oregonians Views on Gun Control?

One in two Oregonians indicate the recent mass shootings at a parade in Highland Park, IL; a supermarket in Buffalo, NY; and an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, do not affect the likelihood they will vote in November (51%). In contrast, 36% of Oregonians indicate they are more likely to vote in November as a result of these events (Q38). 

  • Among women, four in ten say these events increase the likelihood that they will vote this November (40% compared to 32% of men).
  • Oregonians with little to no confidence in the SCOTUS are more likely to vote in November as a result of these events compared to Oregonians who have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the SCOTUS (42% vs. 26%).

Do Oregonians Want to Vote for a Candidate In Favor of Gun Control?

The majority of Oregonians indicate that, come November, they are more likely to vote for someone who wants more gun control (54%), while only 19% are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants less gun control. Two in ten are either undecided or don’t care (10%, 9%) (Q39).

  • Women are more likely than men to seek a candidate who wants more gun control (59%, 49%).
  • Compared to those living in the Willamette Valley and the rest of the state, residents of the Tri-County area report a stronger preference for candidates who advocate for more gun control (52% and 45%, vs. 62%).
  • Oregonians with a college degree or above are more likely to vote for a pro-gun-control candidate than Oregonians with a high school education or below (69% vs. 43%).

Demographic Trends

Identifying what unites us. Understanding what divides us.

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.  

OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

  • Conviction gets stronger with age when it comes to a desire for at least some gun control in Oregon, with three in four of those 18-44 and nine in ten of those 45 or older in support of this policy (76-78% and 86-93%) (Q40). 
    • Among those who say the recent tragic shootings increase the likelihood they will vote in November, Oregonians aged 18-29 are the most likely, and those 75 and older are the least likely age groups to say so (43% vs. 29%) (Q38). 
    • Although there is strong support among all age groups, those 18-29 are the only age group to fall below 80% support for expanding screening and treatment for people with mental health diagnoses (79% compared to 85-93% support) (Q37A).
      • Similarly, Oregonians ages 45 or older are more likely than Oregonians ages 18-29 to support preventing the sale of all firearms to people who a mental health provider has deemed dangerous (88-95% vs. 79%) (Q37C).
    • Oregonians 65 or older are more likely to own a gun than Oregonians ages 64 or younger (43%-46% vs. 25-33%) (Q42).
  • There are very few differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians when it comes to opinions about guns and regulations.
    • Although BIPOC and white residents are very supportive of proposed gun laws, with total responses always within six percentage points of each other, white Oregonians tend to show slightly higher levels of support for each proposed policy (Q37A-E). 
    • BIPOC Oregonians are less likely than white residents to own a gun (29% to 34%) (Q42).

Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,572 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.47%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.


https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/04/PP_2021.04.20_gun-policy_TOPLINE.pdf

[1] Survey conducted April 5-11, 2021; Pew Research Center; N=5,109; PP_2021.04.20_gun-policy_TOPLINE.pdf (pewresearch.org)