Big support from State Fairgoers for universal background checks on gun sales

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Nearly 9 out of every 10 people who responded to a survey at the Minnesota State Fair said they are in favor of universal background checks on gun sales.

More than 6,000 fair-goers responded to the poll, which is put together annually by the Minnesota House of Representatives' nonpartisan Public Information Services.

Poll-takers answered questions ranging from transportation funding, to transgender bathrooms and the gas tax.

Overwhelming support for background checks

One interesting result from the poll, which was revealed Tuesday morning, is that 86 percent of fairgoers are in favor of introducing universal background checks for gun sales.

They were asked: "Should criminal background checks be required on all gun sales, including private transactions and at gun shows?"

Results show 86.2 percent of respondents (5,556 people) answered "yes," with 11.5 percent saying "no," and 2.3 percent undecided.

It should be pointed out that the survey is hardly scientific, with people volunteering to answer rather than pollsters finding a representative sample.

Federal law currently only requires criminal background checks for guns sold through licensed firearms dealers, but according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, this accounts for just 60 percent of gun sales in the U.S.

Organizations such as the NRA oppose expanded background checks because they argue it doesn't stop criminals from getting guns, while also depriving individuals "of due process of law." The group has concerns it would lead to a firearm registry as well.

There were efforts to close the so-called "gun show loophole" by bringing in universal background checks in the Minnesota House earlier this year, the Pioneer Press reports.

At the time, bill co-sponsor Rep. Dan Schoen (a DFLer from Cottage Grove) acknowledged that the Republican-controlled House and rural Democrats are resistant to more gun control, but said he believed "public opinion is overwhelmingly behind such a bill."

It's worth nothing the majority of those selling firearms at gun shows are actually licensed firearms dealers, and as such are required to run background checks. Individuals gun owners who sell to another individual while at a gun show, however, are not required to run a check.

More results from the survey

Here are some other results from the House survey:

  • 59.2 percent don't think schools and businesses should require people to use bathrooms based upon their biological sex at birth.
  • 60.6 percent are in favor of a 10-cent increase to the state's gas tax to help fund transportation improvements.
  • 64.4 percent think legislators' salaries should be set by an independent citizens' board.
  • 46.4 percent are against legislators being elected without a political party designation (so you wouldn't see DFL or Republican on the ballot, for example). 37.6 percent said they were in favor of going back to that method, while 15.9 percent were undecided or had no opinion.
  • 51.6 percent think it should be illegal to drive while talking on a cellphone.

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