UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies releases poll on ballot measure support

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California voters strongly support state ballot measures on gun control and marijuana legalization, according to a poll released Wednesday by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies.

The poll asked 3,020 respondents — who represent an array of California demographics — the same questions Proposition 63 and Proposition 64 will present on the November ballot.

Approximately 82 percent of those polled supported Prop. 63, a measure that would enforce background checks to buy ammunition, require ammunition sales to occur through licensed dealers and prohibit large capacity magazines.

“Voters are very ready to take bold steps,” said Dan Newman, spokesperson for Safety for All, an organization supporting Prop. 63.

Newman added that the proposition goes much further than current gun legislation in California, particularly by creating a process to remove guns from felons and domestic abusers. Opponents of the legislation say, however, that the proposition violates constitutional rights.

“I think (Prop. 63) is unnecessary, burdensome and infringes on Second Amendment rights,” said Jose Diaz, president of Berkeley College Republicans.

California should focus instead, Diaz said, on improving mental health care and the implementation of existing gun legislation.

UC Berkeley professor Brian DeLay, who studies the history of the international arms trade, said experts have recently turned to ammunition controls as a more effective method of reducing shootings than assault weapon bans.

“Unlike firearms, you use (ammunition) once and it’s gone,” DeLay said.

According to the poll, 63.8 percent of Californians supported Proposition 64 — a ballot measure to legalize and tax the sale of recreational marijuana to those over the age of 21.

“I’m hoping this will help to move us away from the war on drugs,” said Matthew Lewis, a member of Cal Berkeley Democrats.

Lewis said the legislation could help the state earn revenue that it can spend on areas lacking sufficient funds, such as higher education.

Although surveys run by the IGS have accurately predicted election results in the past, there is always a worry that the sample will not accurately represent voters, said Gabriel Lenz, a campus associate professor of political science who oversaw the poll.

“One of the things that makes us all worried is that they’re all people who have put their hands up and said, ‘I want to give you my opinion,’ ” Lenz said. “Most people don’t do that.”

Lenz said that on the variety of issues polled, California respondents did not consistently lean toward one ideological stance.

The public generally supported ballot measures promoting gun control and higher taxes for the wealthy, traditionally liberal attitudes, but opposed a measure to end the death penalty, a more conservative stance.

“It’s always surprising to see how non-ideological the public is,” Lenz said.

Contact Mira Chaplin at [email protected].