Monday January 14, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Mainers own more guns than most Americans but also are more supportive of restrictions on semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, according to a poll released Sunday.

The poll commissioned by The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram said 79 percent of Mainers support some restrictions on gun ownership. A third of those respondents said their views were influenced by the shootings last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The poll by Critical Insights said 55 percent of Maine adults have a gun on their property and that 73 percent of gun owners say they use them for hunting. Mainers remain fiercely protective of their right to bear arms, with only 5 percent saying they want to outlaw guns altogether.

"Here, people take pride in their guns and have had guns in their families for generations," said Scott Bahr, senior consultant with Portland-based Critical Insights. "They don’t want an all-out ban, but they want some reasonable restrictions."

The poll, based on telephone interviews with 600 adults between Jan. 7 and Jan. 9, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points for statewide polling questions.

Sixty-one percent of respondents supported banning high-capacity ammunition clips and 51 percent supported banning semi-automatic weapons, the poll said. Nationally, 44 percent of Americans support banning semi-automatic guns, according to a Pew Research poll conducted after the Sandy Hook shootings.

Gun ownership is higher in the northern half of the state, with 68 percent of residents in Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Somerset counties reporting that they have a gun on their property, compared with 46 percent of respondents in York and Cumberland counties.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com