Siena poll shows strong support for both gun control and school safety bills

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Opposition to the SAFE Act has softened in the five years since it was passed, according to a new Siena poll out Monday. New Yorkers strongly support some new gun control and school safety measures in the wake of the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

New Yorkers are reaching beyond partisan politics when it comes to gun control legislation, according to a new poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute.

The poll, conducted from March 11-16, reached 772 New York state registered voters for their opinions on the SAFE Act and various other bills before the state Legislature that are related to gun control and school safety in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting last month.

Opposition for the SAFE Act, which was proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and quickly passed by the state Legislature in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., is at an all-time low of 28 percent, since Siena began polling on this issue in 2014.

“The SAFE Act continues to enjoy overwhelming support among Democrats, independents and downstaters. A small plurality of upstate voters supports it, while Republicans are virtually evenly divided,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Voters who claim to have a gun or rifle in their home — about one in five voters statewide — oppose the SAFE Act by a relatively narrow 49-to-42 percent. More than two-thirds of voters in households with no gun support the SAFE Act.”

The poll questioned the opinion of New Yorkers on legislation being considered in both the state Senate and Assembly by Republicans and Democrats to combat gun violence.

One such bill (S.5808-a/A.9068), sponsored by Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Astoria, and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, would extend the allowable waiting period when purchasing a gun up to 10 days. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats support such legislation, with 87 percent and 95 percent support, respectively.

The bill would also require licensed gunsmiths or firearms dealers to alert law enforcement when a customer fails a background check and require that all employees of gunsmiths or dealers whose duties include handling, selling, or otherwise disposing of firearms, rifles or shotguns pass a background check.

Support for extended and established waiting periods is increasing throughout the country, with Florida lawmakers passing legislation creating a three-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms. It is the first gun control legislation to be passed in the state in years, according to The New York Times.

The poll also shows bipartisan support for providing state funding for school resource officers in schools outside of New York City and requiring New York City Police officers at all public and private schools in New York City from one hour before, until one hour after, school is in session.

Additionally, both red and blue voters voiced support for two mandatory “active shooter drills” to be conducted by schools each year.

A majority of Republicans and Democrats also support prohibiting the sale of guns to individuals convicted of a domestic violence crime, 84 percent and 88 percent, respectively, as well as a ban on the sale of bump stocks in New York.

Both Republicans and Democrats support a ban on assault weapons nationally, 51 percent and 78 percent, respectively.

New Yorkers were divided, however, when asked about their stance on allowing teachers with concealed carry licenses to have their firearms in schools. Opposition to measures that would allow for such practices was 69 percent among all voters, with 86 percent of Democrats opposing concealed carry policies in schools. A reported 53 percent of Republicans in New York would support teachers being permitted to carry concealed weapons in schools.