Pensacola, Florida
Monday July 22nd 2019

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Poll: Voters Favor AR-15 Ban

By Rick Outzen

According to a recent poll, Florida voters favor banning the future sales of AR-15 rifles, raising the age to purchase all guns to 21, and imposing a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases.

On March 9, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a package of bills that addressed mental health, school safety and gun reform.

“Will this bill make a huge investment and dramatically improve school safety, in the hopes of never seeing another tragedy like this again? Will this bill provide more funding to treat the mentally ill? Will this bill give far more tools to keep guns away from people who should not have them? The answer to all three is yes. That is why I am signing the legislation today,” Scott, said at the signing ceremony in his office.

Immediately, the National Rifle Association filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the new law, which raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of rifles and other long guns.

In addition to the new restrictions on purchasing rifles and other long guns, the new law also bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. And it gives law enforcement officials the ability to seek court orders to seize weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

From March 13-16, the Pensacola Inweekly and the Political Matrix conducted a statewide poll of 1,246 likely voters to measure their views on parts of the legislation and determine its possible impact on the U.S. Senate race.

The voters’ views regarding gun reform and school safety were much more aggressive than the legislation recently passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott.

Fifty-nine percent agreed with banning future sales of AR-15 rifles in Florida. Huge percentages of voters also favored raising the age to purchase all guns to 21 (65.8%) and imposing a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases (84.2%).

However, only a little over a third of Florida voters (35.8%) liked arming teachers and other school personnel.

In the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead, the state lawmaker passed a $400 million package that included $67 million for the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program,” named after the assistant football coach who died after using his body to shield students from a hail of bullets from the AR-15. The guardian program would allow school employees, including some teachers, to bring guns to school if they are specially trained and deputized by
sheriffs.

Democrats, students and teachers opposed the guardian plan. Calling the program “scary,” black legislators objected that it would endanger minority children who are more likely to be punished at school. And the state teachers’ union asked Scott for a veto, saying the proposal allowing more than 200,000 school personnel to qualify to bring guns on campus would “do more harm than good.”

The persons sampled were called using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and were called during the hours of 2-8 p.m. to between March 13 and 16. The phone numbers called were provided by the Florida Division of Elections. The Margin of Error for this study is +/- 2.5% with a confidence level of 95%.

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U.S. Senate Race
The gun legislation may have helped Gov. Scott in a head-to-head race with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, should the governor decide to run. In the Inweekly/Political Matrix poll, Republican Gov. Rick Scott polled well against Democrat incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, 48.8%-43.5%.

In early February, Politico reported Nelson was either tied with Scott or starting to pull ahead of him. In a Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey had Nelson basically tied with Scott, 45-44 percent. That result was essentially unchanged since the firm’s October poll, which found the two tied evenly at 44 percent each.

A University of North Florida poll of 429 likely Florida voters showed Nelson leading Scott 48-42 percent. Nelson’s 6-point advantage had grown since UNF’s October 2017survey, which had the Democrat with a marginal one-point lead over Scott, 37-36 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll released Feb. 27 showed Nelson with a four-point lead in the potential matchup.

However, since the Parkland shooting, the Republican governor has begun to edge past Nelson. The poll of likely voters, conducted earlier this month by the Tallahassee-based firm Clearview Research, showed Scott receiving 43.3 percent of the support, while Nelson got 41.3 percent.

Full poll: Statewide Political Matrix – Results March 18, 2018