Gun ownership: three quarters of Britons want stricter laws

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
August 20, 2021, 1:08 PM UTC

Approaching two in five think firearm ownership should be illegal

Following the recent tragic shootings in Plymouth, Priti Patel has announced new measures on civilian gun ownership. Those wishing to have a firearms license in the UK will now have to undergo a mental health check with a doctor, as well as disclose medical conditions to police officers.

A new YouGov survey reveals that 76% of people think the current gun ownership laws should be tightened. This includes 39% who think there should be greater restrictions on ownership and a similar proportion (37%) who would back an outright ban on civilian firearm ownership.  

Around one in six (17%) think the current gun laws are about right, and 3% think they should be relaxed.

The survey shows that while similar proportions of all age groups think that gun ownership should be outlawed, those aged 65 and over are nearly twice as likely to say laws should be tightened (52%) compared to 18- to 24-year-olds (27%). A further 22% of 18- to 24-year-olds say that current firearm laws are about right, twice as high as among those aged 65 and over (11%).

Both Labour and Conservative voters would back tighter laws over firearms. While Conservative voters are more likely to favour increased restrictions on gun ownership (46%), some 30% would back a total ban on ownership. Nearly half of Labour voters (47%) want to see a total ban, while 33% want stricter laws. Some 19% of Conservatives and 16% of Labour voters say that the current laws are about right, with 4% of Tories and 1 % of Labour voters wanting the rules relaxed.

These latest results show more people in favour of tighter gun control (76%) than a previous iteration of this survey from 2010 (69%) – including an additional 6% of people in favour of a total ban. However, this increase may be the effect of the recent Plymouth shooting - further study at a later date will be needed to see if attitudes have changed for the long term. 

See full results for 2021 here and 2010 here