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Latinos support gun control

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Recent surveys indicate that a large majority of Latinos favor more regulation of gun sales and ownership

Recent surveys indicate that a large majority of Latinos favor more regulation of gun sales and ownership

Despite media depictions of Latinos as gun-loving gang members, recent polls paint a much different picture of Latinos as gun owners. One survey by the bipartisan Mayors against Illegal Guns Coalition shows that there is strong Latino support for stronger gun laws.

Survey results show that 89 percent of Latinos support regulations requiring background checks on all gun sales, and that 79 percent support a new Obama administration program requiring firearms dealers in border states to report bulk sales of assault rifles. 

The large support for stricter gun regulation in border states no doubt comes from the violence and civilian deaths in Mexico attributed to drug trafficking. Many of the Mexican victims have relatives in the United States.   

The Mayors’ Coalition report also shows that Latinos strongly lean toward allowing states to decide who can carry concealed weapons, rather than the federal government. A bill in the U.S. House would override state authority to set concealed gun-carrying standards.

The gun regulation issue is particularly controversial in Arizona, where a lone gunman shot and killed six people and severely wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Tucson in 2010. Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly were recently motivated by this senseless gun attack and its aftermath to found Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), a pro-regulation organization advocating for stricter weapons control laws. The goal of ARS is to reduce gun violence. 

In Arizona, some think that certain Republican state legislators and lawmen try to stretch the legal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to extremes. They cite past attempts in the legislature to pass bills that would have permitted guns to be carried on school campuses and the recent order by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to have his armed volunteer sheriff’s posses patrol county schools as ideas that may do more harm than good.

State Senator Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix) and fellow Democrats are advocates for closing the gun-show loophole and banning the sale of high-capacity magazines like those prosecutors say Jared Loughner used in the Tucson shooting. 

“It has nothing to do with prohibiting a law-abiding citizen from owning a firearm,” Gallardo says. “It’s about making sure guns are not in the hands of the bad guys. If you talk to folks who are gun owners, they’ll agree with you.”

Other polls and surveys also offer surprising facts about Latinos and guns. An analysis of six years of Gallup Polls shows that only 18 percent of Latinos own guns, less than whites and blacks. Who made up the largest population of gun owners? White southern males. 

In addition, an April 2012 Pew Research Center survey showed that only 29 percent of Latinos said it was more important to protect gun rights than control gun ownership. By contrast, 57 percent of whites thought that gun rights were more important.

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