An overwhelming majority of Virginia voters favor banning guns on college campuses, according to the results of a statewide poll released this morning.
Three-fourths of the voters who participated in the Quinnipiac University survey said guns should not be allowed on college campuses. Nearly two-third said gun owners with concealed carry permits should not be allowed to have firearms on the grounds of Virginia colleges and universities.
And 62 percent oppose repealing a Virginia law that limits handgun purchases to one per month.
Gun rights advocates are pressing for legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session that would allow individuals with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on campus grounds. College boards of visitors have the authority to adopt regulations restricting gun possession on state campuses.
The survey results come from live telephone interviews with 1,135 registered voters conducted between Dec. 13 and Monday. The poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
The polling began five days after the Dec. 8 shooting death of Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse, who was killed in a campus parking lot after making a traffic stop. The gunman, Radford University student Ross Truett Ashley, took his own life about a half-hour after shooting Crouse. Police have not determined a motive for the shooting of the officer.
By a margin of 75 percent to 20 percent, voters said guns should not be allowed on college campuses. Both Democratic and Republican voters support a campus gun ban by solid majorities.
In the survey, 49 percent said someone in their home owns a gun.
Nearly two-thirds of the poll’s participants oppose letting gun owners with concealed carry permits to have firearms on campus grounds, but Republican voters were divided on the issue. Half oppose letting permit-holders have guns on campuses, while 46 percent support the idea.
The poll also found that voters are divided over whether Virginia should lift its moratorium in uranium mining, another controversial issue lawmakers will debate this winter. In the survey, 43 percent said mining should be allowed because of its potential economic benefits, but 41 percent said it should be prohibited because of environmental concerns.
The polling began after the release of a socioeconomic study that analyzed the potential economic benefits of mining a 119-millon-pound uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. A long-awaited scientific study released Monday concluded that Virginia would face “steep hurdles” in protecting public health and the environment if it allows mining to proceed.
But the survey revealed “a large gender gap” on the uranium issue, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Men want to lift it 53 – 33 percent while women want to keep the restriction 47 – 34 percent,” Brown said. “Education also seems to affect attitude, with college graduates opposed to mining 47 – 40 percent, while those without a degree in favor of mining 45 – 37 percent.”
The poll also revealed a stark partisan gap on the uranium issue. Republicans support mining by a margin of 62 percent to 24 percent, and Democrats oppose it by a margin of 54 percent to 29 percent. Independents were divided, with 42 percent supporting mining and 43 percent opposing it.
The poll also found that 58 percent of voters oppose legislation that would define life as beginning at conception, a measure that abortion rights advocates have vowed to fight. Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William County, has introduced legislation to give unborn children “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons.” The bill states that “the life of each human being begins at conception.”
– Michael Sluss