California voters support gun control initiative, Proposition 63, poll says

Store managers Jamie Taflinger,left and Kendyll Murray show customer Cornell Hall, of Highland, different types of ammo at the Get Loaded gun store in Grand Terrace.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

California voters continue to show strong support for Proposition 63, a gun control initiative on next week’s statewide ballot, according to a new statewide USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

The initiative is supported by 58% of likely voters, while 35% are opposed.

Proposition 63 would outlaw large ammunition magazines, mandate background checks for those who buy bullets, levy fines for failing to report when guns are stolen or lost and create a process for taking guns away from people convicted of a felony.

The ballot measure enjoys its strongest support from minority voters. While 54% of white registered voters favor the measure, support among Latinos is 67%.


The demographics of Latino voters appears to play a role. Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who studies Latino voting trends, said these voters tend to be younger and have more school-age children, so “safety issues are always of paramount importance.”

The measure is proposed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose campaign has focused on the series of mass shootings in the United States, including attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Fla., and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Newsom says the measure will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

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Opponents, including the National Rifle Assn., have argued the measure will burden law-abiding citizens who own firearms and divert resources away from law enforcement, but would not stop violent criminals from accessing guns.


The poll found that support for the measure among likely voters drops to 52% when they hear the arguments put forward by the two sides, while opposition increases to 39%.

The most support came from single women, while the least came from married men. The initiative was backed by 77% of Democrats and just 30% of Republicans.

In looking at all registered voters surveyed, the poll found 69% owned no guns, 11% had one or two guns or rifles, 6% had between three and nine and 3% had 10 or more.

A slight majority of gun owners (51%) who are likely voters opposed the initiative, while it enjoyed support from 68% of those who don’t have firearms.

The measure received the most support, 67%, in the San Francisco Bay Area, while 65% of Los Angeles County voters favored it. The least support was in an inland area of Northern California that includes Sacramento, where only 43% of likely voters said they plan to vote for the proposal.

Those planning to vote for Proposition 63 include Joseph Speakman, a 50-year-old truck driver from Bakersfield. “The less access people have to guns, the less homicides we will have,” he said.

Kyle Stockard, a retiree from Merced, said he will vote for the measure because he likes the idea of background checks for people buying ammunition.

“They probably are never going to totally stop the illegal sale of guns and ammunition, but I think you are going to slow it down some if you have checks,” said Stockard, 66.

Richard Selph, a state corrections officer and gun owner from Blythe, opposes the initiative because he is skeptical it will accomplish what it claims.

”It’s a burden on responsible gun owners,” said Selph, 43. “The criminals are just not going to buy their ammunition from stores.”

Marcus Okutsu, an administrator for a home health company, said he has constitutional concerns about Proposition 63.

“It infringes on our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” said Okutsu, a 35-year-old Clovis resident. “Anything that would hinder or make us have to jump over hurdles to even purchase ammunition, which is a key and central part of owning a firearm, would be an infringement.”

The survey of 1,500 registered voters was conducted for USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 2.3 percentage points.


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Detailed poll results