Stronger gun laws top issue for women voters in 2016

Women voters ranked gun violence as a top security concern for this presidential election cycle, according to results of a survey measuring the female perspective published this week.

Beating out equal pay and women’s health, stronger gun laws topped the list for policies favored by women with 87 percent, according to the National Survey of Voters project “Women and the 2016 Elections.”

Sixty-two percent of all women polled said they were very concerned with gun violence and mass shootings, the results show. Demographics for that issue include 61 percent of millennial women, 79 percent women of color, and 66 percent unmarried women.

In that same vein, requiring a background check before a gun purchase and an assault weapons ban topped the list for voting issues. Sixty-four percent of women agreed along with 66 percent of millennials, 70 percent women of color and 62 percent unmarried women.

The online survey interviewed 1,000 women from Aug. 19-25. It was commissioned by American Women, an organization affiliated with pro-choice Democratic group Emily’s List, and performed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a polling company affiliated with numerous Democratic campaigns.

The survey did not identify percentage of participants as gun owners, a measurement that has been the subject of debate as estimates vary by a large margin in other polls. In search for a realistic estimate, many look to the General Social Survey because of its vast sample size. In 2014, GSS found 32 percent of American households having a gun. Digging deeper in that survey, The Trace found women making up an average of 11 percent of gun owners over the past few decades.

Despite the low figures, gun groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the gun industry, point to other polls and its own research showing women as the fastest growing demographic of gun buyers. Yet, its research does not show growth for the number of women who own guns.

More than usual, women are expected to play an important role in the upcoming election as Democrat Hillary Clinton would be the first female president and Republican Donald Trump has had a contentious relationship with women and female critics in the past. They’ve both ramped up efforts to appeal to the female vote. According to Pew Research poll from July, there’s a 16 percentage point difference in the gender gap with the majority of women, 59 percent, saying they favor Clinton.

However, both Clinton and Trump supporters expressed similar concerns regarding guns, according to an August survey by Pew. The majority of both expressed favorable opinions of expanded background check measures but perspectives polarized when it came to prohibiting items like high-capacity magazines or assault weapons.