The Senators Doing the Most to Regulate Guns

According to voters, gun policy is one of the top problems facing America today. A recent Pew Survey found that 60% of American adults consider gun violence a very big problem, ranking it among the top five issues – along with inflation, drug addiction, health care costs, and partisan gridlock. But none of these other major problems is nearly as politically divisive as gun control. 

The same Pew survey found that only 38% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters consider gun violence a serious problem, compared to 81% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. This partisan division is also reflected in positions taken by many of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

Using data from the nonprofit gun rights lobbying group, Gun Owners of America, 24/7 Wall St. identified the strongest gun control advocates in the U.S. Senate. GOA assigned 96 of the 100 sitting U.S. senators with a letter grade, from A+ to F-, for their positions on gun legislation, with the highest grades going to the most pro-gun lawmakers, and the lowest to the most staunch supporters of gun control. The 50 senators on this list are split into two groups, starting with those who received a grade of F, and followed by those with an F-, and are listed alphabetically.  

Partisanship has been a defining feature of Congress for years, but few issues embody this more clearly than gun control. The list of 50 U.S. senators with a grade of F or F- from the GOA includes every Democrat in the chamber and only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

While gun policy is the single most important issue for many voters, when it comes to assessing their representative’s job performance, the bulk of Americans take multiple factors into account. And despite potentially alienating themselves from pro-gun voters, many senators on this list remain relatively popular with their constituency. (Here is a look at the states with the strictest gun control laws.) 

Of the 10 most popular U.S. senators, identified by a 2023 survey from public opinion research company Morning Consult, five appear on this list – as do over half of the 50 most popular senators. Meanwhile, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I) of Arizona, Bob Menendez (D) of New Jersey, and Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, are the only lawmakers on this list to rank among the 10 least popular sitting U.S. senators. (Here is a look at the most, and least, popular Democrats in the senate.)

It is important to note that GOA gun policy grades are based only on the most recent available data, and that some prominent lawmakers have shifted their positions in recent years. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R) of Wyoming, for example, was hard set against expanded background checks, a position she walked back in the wake of the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Still, Lummis received an A from the GOA, which was assigned in 2020, the year she was elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Click here to see the most anti gun senators.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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