After several mass shootings in a row, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows a sharp increase in national support for universal background checks for gun purchases, including among gun owners. The poll also found that a majority of voters support “a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons’’.
The new findings show the highest level of support for checks since Quinnipiac started polling on the issue after the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown that killed 20 children and six educators in December 2012. The nationwide poll took place Nov. 7-13 with a margin of error of + or - 3%.
The latest numbers show 95% support for universal background checks, including 94% in households with gun ownership. Support for criminal background checks cuts across all groups: 98% of Democrats, 96% of independents, 92% of Republicans, 97% of women and 92% of men.
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation today to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report individuals’ criminal histories to a system used for background checks ahead of gun purchases. The proposal follows the killing of 26 people, 14 of them children, during a Sunday service earlier this month at a Baptist church in the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs and the massacre of 58 people and injuries to hundreds more at a country music festival in Las Vegas last month.
The bill, crafted by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut as well as Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), would provide incentives to states to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check system to ensure timely, accurate uploading of all background check information.
The Quinnipiac poll found voters also support “a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons’’ 65% to 31%. In gun households, voters support a ban 51% to 43%. 91% support banning the sale of guns to people convicted of a violent crime.
74% support banning gun modifications that make a firearm shoot like a fully automatic weapon with 24% opposed. Highest support for banning so-called “bump stocks’’ comes from the Northeast and suburbs at 81% each.
Nearly 60% surveyed consider it too easy to buy a gun in the United States. But only 32% of Republicans said it was “too easy’’ while 59% of Republicans said it is “about right.’’
At the same time, 62% said criminals responsible for mass shootings “would find a way around gun laws and commit these crimes, anyway’’ under stricter gun laws. By comparison, 34% said stricter gun laws would help prevent massacres like those at a recent concert in Las Vegas and a church in Texas. The political divide was sharp at 92% of Republicans claiming criminals find a way around laws, while only 38% of Democrats agreed.
Regarding the causes of mass shootings, 52% cited lack of mental health care as the biggest reason, while only 37% cited the ability to buy guns. Overall, 74% of Republicans, 55% of men, and 58% of those between the ages of 35 and 49 called it too difficult to get mental health care.
When asked if the United States would be safer if more people carried guns, 37% said safer and 55% said less safe. Among those 65 and older, 61% said less safe.
With each American gun massacre, there is stronger support for tighter gun control measures.’’
“But the cynical view prevails," said Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, "stricter laws will do no good whatsoever in a country with more guns than people.’’