Canadians are showing concern over the spread of gun violence but are divided by gender, gun ownership and region on the seriousness of gun-related crimes.
The latest public opinion study performed by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds half of Canadians consider gun violence a serious problem for the country, while half say political and media coverage of the issue has been overblown.
Concern over gun violence is greatest in Ontario.
Six out of 10 Canadians say they would support an outright ban on civilian possession of handguns. The support increases to three-quarters of Canadian when it comes to considering a ban on assault weapons.
The study says there is support for proposals to strengthen elements of the licensing and purchase process, including expanded background checks and comprehensive tracking of gun sale records. This includes the majority of support from current and former gun owners.
The survey also shows that rural and urban respondents have different concerns about gun violence. Close to 50 per cent of those living in cities in Canada say their biggest worry relates to gang activity. However, rural Canadians show higher levels of concern about accidental shootings or guns used for suicide.
Those who say they have more knowledge about Canda’s gun laws are more comfortable with the current procedures, the study shows. This group is also more likely to say Canadian gun laws are too strict overall, with 37 per cent saying this.
People with no knowledge of Canada’s gun laws are nearly three times as likely to say the laws are not strict enough.
Canadians are also divided about what a handgun ban would mean for the black market. Almost half say it would not make guns more difficult for criminals to obtain while the other half say it would.
Two-thirds of Canadians say they would support a taxpayer-funded buy-back program for gun owners if the government did ban handguns, assault weapons or both.
The institute also noted those who are opposed to a ban on firearms are mostly men, rural Canadians and gun owners.
A link to the poll can be found here.