KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Voters favor legalizing marijuana, mandatory gun background checks

Nevada voters support ballot measures that would legalize recreational marijuana and expand background checks on the vast majority of gun sales, according to a new KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll.

The poll of 750 likely Nevada voters found significant support for both initiatives, which could become law if approved by voters come November. Rasmussen polls historically tilt Republican, according to a FiveThirtyEight ranking of polling groups.

Roughly two-thirds of voters polled voiced support for Question 1, which would require the vast majority of gun sales or transfers between two private parties to first undergo a mandatory background check by a licensed firearms dealer. Twenty-eight percent of voters opposed the measure, with seven percent undecided.

Supporters of the measure, which is largely being bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety organization, say it would eliminate an existing loophole in state law and help stop gun violence, while opponents including the National Rifle Association say it’s overly burdensome and would criminalize normal behavior among gun owners.

Voters were asked if they “favor or oppose a state requirement that anyone who wants to sell or transfer a gun go through a licensed firearms dealer and have the buyer undergo a mandatory background check.” Nearly every demographic group polled answered affirmatively, including a 71 to 23 split supporting the ballot question in populous Clark County.

Background Checks Initiative campaign manager Joe Duffy said the 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll backs up what the campaign is hearing from voters.

"This independent poll is a reflection of what we hear from Nevada voters, which is that an overwhelming majority support common-sense proposals like background checks that make it harder for criminals to get guns," he said in an emailed statement. "Nevada voters are smart and clearly, they understand that Question 1 is a simple measure to close a loophole in the law that will reduce gun violence and help make our communities safer.”

Robert Uithoven, who is leading the NRA's statewide effort to defeat the ballot question, said the results weren't surprising due to the massive amounts of fundraising poured in to the state to support the initiative.

"However, we are finding that as more and more Nevadans learn the truth about how Question 1 would cost them time, money, and freedom, opposition to the gun control initiative is growing," he said in a statement. "Law-abiding gun owners in Nevada are quickly figuring out that Question 1 may turn many of them into criminals."

Both groups plan to spend millions on the ballot question, which state legislators initially approved in 2013 but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Voters were more narrowly split on a ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana in Nevada — 50 percent of voters polled said they’d vote for Question 2, with 41 percent opposed and nine percent undecided.

The measure would allow for legalized adult consumption of cannabis and for the legal sale of marijuana, similar to how alcohol is regulated in the state. It would also implement a 15 percent tax that would go directly into a state budget account for K-12 education.

Democrats, younger voters and people who identified as black or Hispanic reported favoring the measure, while a majority of Republican voters and poll respondents over 65 said they oppose the initiative.

Poll respondents were specifically asked if they favored or opposed “the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Nevada if it is regulated and taxed like alcohol and cigarettes.”

The 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll also found Republican Donald Trump holds a modest lead over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton following the Republican National Convention last week.

A full demographic breakdown of polling results is available here.

The 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll has a four percent margin of error, with 95 percent level of confidence. The poll was conducted between July 22 and 24 using a mix of 75 percent automated voice polling and 25 percent online responses.

KTNV will release additional polling results on public financing of a possible NFL stadium in Las Vegas tomorrow.

This story has been updated to add comments from groups supporting and opposing Question 1.

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