A majority of Colorado voters support a ban on the sale of assault weapons but the concept generates deep polarization along party lines, according to a new poll released Monday by a trio of Colorado-based Democratic firms.
The KOM Colorado Poll from Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs and Mike Melanson found 57% of voters surveyed would support the ban with 40% opposing it.
Those results split heavily along party lines, with 87% of Democrats backing an assault weapons ban and 11% in opposition compared to 74% opposition from Republicans with 24% support. Unaffiliated voters broke down on the same lines as the overall sample: 57% support a sales ban while 40% oppose the concept.
Among unaffiliated voters, support for the concept was split based on gender. A narrow majority of unaffiliated men opposed a ban by a 4% margin. Unaffiliated women, however, were strongly in support. More than two-thirds said they would support a sales ban while 28% opposed one.
A ban on the sale of assault weapons also split voters based on where they live.
More than three-quarters of Denver and Boulder voters surveyed for the poll support the concept, but the percentage of voters who say they are supportive straddles the mid-50s in Front Range and suburban counties. Meanwhile, a majority of voters in the state’s rural counties oppose the concept with 55% giving it a thumbs down.
The poll of active Colorado voters was based on a representative sample of 528 surveys conducted online from April 20-26. It was paid for entirely by the sponsoring firms. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.3 percentage points. Democrats made up 30% of the sample with Republicans making up 27% and unaffiliated voters rounding out the remaining 42%.
This week, lawmakers in the General Assembly are scheduled to take their first legislative steps toward addressing the March mass shooting in Boulder. The suspect in that case is accused of opening fire in a King Soopers grocery store, killing 10.
The trio of bills introduced last week by Democratic lawmakers includes Senate Bill 21-256, which would lift the state law that forbids local governments from enacting stricter gun laws than state law.
Ten days before the shooting, a Boulder judge had dismissed a city ordinance that would have banned assault weapons in Boulder, although the shooter at the King Soopers reportedly used the pistol version of a Ruger AR-556 rifle, along with a high-capacity magazine that is already illegal to possess under Colorado law.
Democrats also introduced House Bill 21-1298, a measure designed to strengthen the state's background check laws and add violence misdemeanors to the crimes that could keep someone from purchasing or transferring a gun. The last bill of the package, House Bill 21-1299, would create the Office of Gun Violence and Prevention within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Both HB 1298 and HB 1299 are scheduled for hearings before House committees later this week.