By Don Thompson, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California voters overwhelmingly favor additional controls on guns and ammunition, with women far more eager to regulate firearms than men, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday.
The survey found that 61 percent of voters say it is more important to control guns and ammunition than to protect the rights of gun owners. It's the biggest margin of support on that question since the Field Poll began asking it 1999.
More than eight in 10 voters favor spending more money to confiscate guns from convicted felons. Three-quarters favor permits and background checks for anyone buying ammunition.
Roughly 60 percent favor a tax on bullets to fund violence-prevention programs, outlawing ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets and banning rifles with detachable magazines.
When asked whether specially trained teachers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons in school, 68 percent said no. That idea was opposed by 74 percent of women and 60 percent of men.
The gender difference was evident throughout the survey.
"It's not that men are opposed to these. In many cases, they're on the fence. But these are being driven by women," Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said.
All the questions were based bills awaiting consideration in the state Legislature. More than 30 bills have been introduced for this year's session dealing with these restrictions and other related measures, such as increasing school safety.
There was no difference between the genders when it came to taking guns from felons.
Women favored by wide margins taxing ammunition, outlawing large capacity magazines and banning rifles with detachable magazines, while men were evenly divided on those questions. Background checks for buying bullets were favored by 82 percent of women and 68 percent of men.
DiCamillo has rarely seen such a gender divide on social issues and equated it to the split shown in polls on violence-rated topics such as going to war. Women, as traditional caregivers, may have an even stronger emotional reaction than men to the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, he said.
Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, are likely to see the greatest political benefit from the gun debate, DiCamillo said, because 57 percent of Democrats in California are women.
"They're just pretty much in sync with their base," he said of Democratic lawmakers, who introduced most of the gun-control measures.
The telephone poll of 834 registered voters was conducted Feb. 5-17. The poll has a sampling error of up to plus or minus 5 percentage points when a random subsample of 415 registered voters was used for some of the questions.