According to new polling released today by the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI), a majority of Washingtonians support banning the "sale, transport, manufacture, or import of military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle." The poll shows 56% of the 1,039-person sample of likely voters statewide expressing support for a gun violence prevention measure that Congress hasn't had the guts to touch since 1994.
With a margin of error of +/- 3%, the 56% majority support for the measure nearly matches the actual results of I-1639, a 2018 ballot initiative that raised the age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21, among other gun violence prevention measures. Though the policy proved too hot for the Legislature to handle that year, 59% of voters approved the initiative at the ballot box that year.
For anyone else mired in a sense of hopelessness following the Uvalde mass shooting, this data could not have come at a better time. The strength of the support for the ban shows that people have made up their minds on this issue, with 52% of the respondents claiming their support was "strong." The ban remains popular no matter where you look across the state: 73% of King County voters liked it, but so did 50% of voters in Eastern and Central Washington.
NPI and its polling partner, Public Policy Polling, conducted the survey on June 1st and 2nd. NPI's Andrew Villeneuve told me in a phone interview that they tacked on the question after the mass shooting in Uvalde, sensing that the murder of 19 children might stick in the news cycle longer than the average mass shooting. He said the language of the question they asked voters mirrored legislation Rep. Liz Berry advocated for here at The Stranger in the wake of that tragedy.
Many people remain skeptical of the value of polling at all, given mixed results in the accuracy of their predictions in federal elections over the last few years. This poll, however, bears all the markers of a well-done survey. The sample size far exceeds what other statewide polls regularly pay to get, and NPI has disclosed the full text of the question they asked — not super common in political polling!
So, while this poll only presents a snapshot of public opinion at this particular moment, any politician scared of taking on the gun lobby should probably think of a strategy other than nit-picking this poll's methodology to justify defying a clear majority of Washingtonians.