- A new Quinnipiac poll shows American support for stricter gun laws is at an all-time high.
- The poll also found nearly universal support for background checks.
- Another poll released Wednesday showed that 58% of Americans believed stricter gun laws could have prevented last week’s mass shooting in Florida.
The deadly school shooting in Florida last week thrust gun control into the national spotlight yet again – but Americans may finally be at a turning point on the issue.
A new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found that two-thirds of American voters support stricter gun laws, reaching the highest level in the poll’s history.
Just as remarkable was the near-universal support for background checks, with 97% of the general public and 97% of gun owners supporting them. That number rose slightly from November 2017, when 95% of American voters overall and 94% of voters in gun-owning households supported background checks.
Beyond that, the new poll found that 67% of Americans favoured a nationwide assault weapons ban, a rate that rose steadily over the last five years. In 2013, just 56% of voters said they supported an assault weapons ban.
“If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. “In the last two months, some of the biggest surges in support for tightening gun laws comes from demographic groups you may not expect – independent voters, men, and whites with no college degree.”
Public opinion vs. legislative action
Quinnipiac wasn’t alone in its findings – a new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in the days after the Florida shooting found that 58% of Americans believed stricter gun control could have prevented the massacre.
That poll also found that 77% of Americans thought better mental health resources could have prevented the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, from going on his rampage.
A narrow majority of Americans, 51%, also believed that arming teachers with guns couldn’t have prevented the shooting. Some prominent conservatives have backed the idea to allow concealed carry in schools.
Though public opinion may be progressing on gun control measures, it’s unclear whether the issue’s spike in support will translate to legislative action.
Certain gun control regulations have long been popular among the American public, yet reviled by lawmakers and gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association.
Data from the Pew Research Center in 2017 showed that overwhelming majorities of Americans favoured barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns and closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to buy guns without background checks through private sales and gun shows.
Another broadly popular measure is blocking people on the FBI’s no-fly list from buying guns, though civil liberties groups have decried previous attempts to legislate the issue.
The issue is more nuanced when it comes to legislating assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, with fewer than half of gun owners favouring an assault weapons ban but 77% of non-gun owners supporting it.
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