Poll: White D.C. Residents Favor Gun Ban, Black Residents Don't

Survey shows stark racial contrast on gun rights in the nation's capital

November 19, 2015

A new poll on gun rights in Washington, D.C., released Thursday shows a sharp divide along racial and economic lines with affluent whites favoring a gun ban and poorer black residents opposing it.

The survey of 1,005 D.C. residents, conducted by the Washington Post between November 12 and 15, found a bare majority of D.C. residents—51 percent— support banning all guns, while nearly as many—47 percent—oppose it.

The Post's analysis of the respondents' racial and economic background show a gun ban is most popular among white residents and least popular among black residents. The paper also found that 67 percent of whites with college degrees supported the idea of a ban, 5 percent more than whites in general.

Sixty-one percent of those making more than $100,000 per year supported the ban—whose racial makeup was not specified—while only about 40 percent of those making less than $50,000 did.

They also found that younger, newer residents of the city supported a gun ban at a higher rate than the general population.

Despite the bare majority of support for a gun ban, the poll found that a bare plurality, 43 percent, said such a ban wouldn't make a difference in making the city safer. Forty-two percent said a ban would make the city safer. Twelve percent said it would make the city less safe and 3 percent had no opinion.

One resident the Post spoke with said a gun ban would violate the Second Amendment and guns aren't to blame for gun violence. "Isn’t that in the...the 2nd Amendment, no they shouldn’t ban guns," Idriis Bilaal, 88, a resident of D.C. who lives north of Capitol Hill, told the paper. "Guns don’t kill nobody, they just lay there. A man should be able to own a gun if he wants to. It doesn’t mean he has to use it wrongly."

In particular, black residents that live in areas of D.C. that have experienced a 50 percent increase in robberies at gunpoint this year, were the least supportive of an outright ban.

The Supreme Court employed similar reasoning when it struck down the city's total ban on handgun ownership in 2009, making the constitutionality of any new gun ban in the city highly questionable. The District's current gun laws have faced a number of recent setbacks in the last two years with federal courts declaring them unconstitutional three different times. The city's gun carry law is awaiting a hearing on its constitutionality in federal circuit court later this year.