Siena poll finds strong, bipartisan support for new semiautomatic rifle law

Photo Darren McGee, Office of the Governor. Cover photo by Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of the Governor
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new gun legislation into law on June 6, 2022, raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21, as well as other gun control laws.

A new Siena poll finds that 76 percent of New York registered voters say a new law requiring a permit to get a semi-automatic rifle will be “good for New York.” For the same question, 14 percent of New York voters said the new law will be “bad for New York. Eight percent have mixed feelings and 2 percent do not know how they feel.

By a similar 79-15 percent margin, voters want to see the U.S. Supreme Court uphold New York’s decades-old law requiring a license to carry a concealed handgun, according to a new Siena College poll of registered New York State voters.

“More than three-quarters of voters think the new law – requiring a permit to obtain a semi-automatic rifle going forward – will be good for New York, including at least 65 percent of every demographic group. It’s worth noting that 67 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of gun owners — about one-fifth of all voters — think the law will be good,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

The poll of 802 registered New York voters has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. It was conducted in early June.

The new law — passed on the last day of the legislative session and quickly signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul — bans anyone under the age of 21 from owning a semiautomatic rifle in New York. The new law also requires a background check and completing a safety course to purchase a semiautomatic rifle. The law will not affect current owners of semiautomatic rifles.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon issue an opinion on a case that originated with a challenge to New York’s handgun laws, specifically, the process that determines who qualifies for a concealed carry permit.

The Siena poll found that more than three-quarters of voters want the Supreme Court to uphold New York’s handgun laws, including 72 percent of gun owners, 77 percent of independent voters, and 79 percent of Republicans.

The poll also asked New York state voters about another new law passed in June that will outlaw the sale of body armor for most civilians.

“By a smaller, 58-24 percent margin, voters say outlawing body or armored vests except for law enforcement will be good for the state,” Greenberg said. “Two-thirds of Democrats support the ban, as do 53 percent of independents, 50 percent of Republicans, and 54 percent of gun owners.”