When asked about firearms ownership by private citizens, people are more opinionated than they were four years ago. A recent survey found that 44 percent of citizens want more gun control laws while 30 percent want fewer gun control laws, with 18 percent wanting no change.
The 1999 survey found 37 percent wanted more control and 15 percent wanted less control, with 40 percent wanting no change.
The survey was written and distributed by students in the criminal justice department at Central Lakes College. The surveys were compiled prior to the April passing of legislation granting conceal-and-carry permits to anyone who passes a background check and training course.
The survey was conducted by individual interviews of a random sample of 333 CLC students and 100 law enforcement officers from central Minnesota.
Terry Fairbanks, head of CLC's criminal justice department, said the radio and television blitz surrounding mass shootings has increased since 1999, and he believes people's concerns about violence are reflected in the survey results.
Police were mostly content with the current gun control laws. Sixty-two percent wanted no change in the legislation. Twenty-six wanted more gun control laws (up from 10 percent in 1999) and only 6 percent wanted fewer laws (down from 42 percent).
Both citizens and police are more cautious about the idea of issuing concealed weapons permits than they were in 1999, although they still favored it. Fifty-six percent of citizens and 60 percent of police said citizens should be issued a permit after a background check, down from 72 and 73 percent four years ago.
The survey showed that citizens and police prefer the legal drinking age stay at 21. Fifty-two percent of citizens and 51 percent of police believed juvenile crime would increase if the drinking age were lowered. Only 12 percent of citizens and 1 percent of police said crime would decrease.
Police would like to see harsher penalties for juvenile offenders. Eighty percent of police said current penalties aren't severe enough. They also wanted harsher penalties for adult offenders who victimize children. Ninety-three percent said present penalties aren't harsh enough; 88 percent of citizens agreed.
When asked if marijuana should be legalized, 60 percent of citizens and 88 percent of police said no.
Although many respondents wanted harsher penalties for certain crimes, nearly everyone agreed that Minnesota is a reasonably safe place to live compared to other states. Ninety percent of citizens and 100 percent of police believe it is safer.
When asked about their political values, citizens tended to be more liberal and police more conservative. Among citizens, liberals outnumbered conservatives 30 percent to 22 percent. Among police, conservatives outnumbered liberals 51 percent to 0 percent.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.