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MD Higher Education Commission
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County Survey Finds Support for Gun Control, Concerns About Mass Shooting at Schools

| April 12, 2018
Rams Head

A survey of 663 Anne Arundel County residents conducted March 23-29 by the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) at Anne Arundel Community College found that 61 percent of the residents had a “fear that a mass shooting might occur in a school near you.” Respondents were inclined to support many gun control measures such as federal bans on high capacity gun magazines (74 percent favored); a national ban on assault style weapons (70 percent); mandatory background checks for all gun sales (96 percent), and “national testing for knowledge and proficiency in gun use prior to purchase (82 percent). They were generally favorable to “passing more gun control restrictions by Congress” (66 percent). A majority (58 percent) favored a requirement that gun owners acquire liability insurance.

Regarding school-based measures, the public agreed with the use of metal detectors “at all Maryland public schools” (69 percent) as well as the presence of armed police officers (75 percent). They were disinclined to agree with “allowing teachers Maryland public schools to carry guns” (26 percent). A large majority (80 percent) favored imposing “mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of using guns in the commission of a crime.”

The survey asked some benchmark questions such as the “most important problem facing the residents of Anne Arundel County at the present time.” As was the case last fall, the item gaining the plurality of mentions was “illegal drugs” rising from 23 to 28 percent this spring. In fall 2016, crime and drugs combined were only 19 percent compared to 37 percent this spring. Growth/development was mentioned by 10 percent, education by 9 percent, transportation by 8 percent and the economy by 6 percent.

Given the rising preoccupation with the sale and use of illegal opioid drugs, the survey queried whether the public thought that government responses rose to the challenge. Specifically, respondents were asked whether “various programs to deal with the opioid crisis…have had a major positive impact, a moderate impact, or little to no impact.” Very few thought that a major positive impact had been accomplished (4 percent). Rather, respondents were evenly divided between “moderate impact” (34 percent) and “little to no impact” (45 percent). A large number (17 percent) did not offer an opinion. This did not signal much change from last fall when only 46 percent were satisfied with the “effectiveness of the county’s response to rising opioid use.”

Other benchmark questions included right vs. wrong direction for the county, state and country. Economic conditions ratings were included as well as questions about personal economic circumstances such as facing the possibility of unemployment, the cost of education and health care.

The survey also included questions about a variety of stances and policy choices. As was the case last fall, the survey asked respondents to agree/disagree with several statements such as “deport the DACA children of illegal immigrants” (18 percent agreed), or “the Republican tax plan passed late last year will be good for the economy and benefit you personally” (34 percent agreed).

Another section of the survey focused more on state and local issues. The public was generally neutral regarding the building of a MagLev train (only 42 percent favored) or the idea of imposing a health care insurance purchase mandate (27 percent). They tended to favor businesses “with at least 15 workers” providing at least paid five sick days per year (71 percent). Term limits for members of the Maryland General Assembly were favored as well (68 percent). Respondents were favorable to the idea that “recreational marijuana should be made legal, regulated and taxed” (58 percent).

The survey asked whether Anne Arundel County police were “professional and free from corruption” – a very large percentage had no opinion (30 percent) while 41 percent agreed. Nearly half (49 percent) thought that “County public schools do a great job educating students” while 63 percent agreed that “teacher compensation in county public schools is inadequate.”

Not many respondents were convinced that the county had “done a good job balancing demands for new development with measures ensuring our quality of life” (30 percent agreed); a very large percentage (72 percent) thought that “land developers have too much influence on local land use and zoning decisions.”

The Bayhawks’ proposal to convert the Crownsville hospital location into a sports and commercial facility produced a divided result: 38 percent favored, 35 percent opposed and 27 percent were unsure or gave no answer.

A section asked questions relevant to the reelection chances of Governor Larry Hogan, and how he might fare against some possible Democratic contenders – with large numbers of Democrats unable to cite a preference for any of the seven candidates in the field. Given the lack of clear alternative, Governor Hogan was chosen by 56 percent. The job approval of the president, governor and county executive were included showing that the county still likes Hogan (76 percent saying “approve”) but not Trump (34 percent). A detailed review of these issues as well as other results follows the summary of finding below.

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Rams Head

 

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