A majority of Americans support each of the nine key proposals of President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence, including enactment of a strengthened assault weapons ban, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Respondents to the Gallup poll conducted on Jan. 19-20, 2013, were asked to vote "for" or "against" each of the nine proposals without being told they were parts of Obama's gun violence reduction plan announced on January 16.
An overwhelming majority of 91% said they would favor requiring background checks for all guns sales, including private sales and sales at gun shows. Support for universal background checks crossed party lines, with 97% of Democrats, 92% of Republicans and 86% of Independents voting "for" the proposal.
Increased funding for mental health programs aimed specifically at young people was supported by 82%, increased funding for programs to train school personnel and police in countering armed attacks won 79% support, and increased jail time for so-called "straw-men" gun buyers who buy guns for non-qualified individuals was supported by 79% of the respondents.
While still a majority, only 60% supported enactment of an enhanced assault weapons ban, like the one recently introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California). Only 49% of Republicans supported the ban, compared to 80% of Democrats and 51% of Independents.
Least-supported of all, a proposal to ban the sale of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds was favored by only 54% of those polled.
"If Congress is looking to public opinion for what to pass first, the poll indicates background checks, stiffer penalties on straw purchasers, bans on armor-piercing bullets, and more funding for police, school security, and mental health programs would face little public resistance," noted the Gallup analysis. However, noted Gallup, the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans "might not only be difficult to get through Congress, but hard to sell to Republicans and independents."
The poll represented the opinions of 1,013 randomly selected adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
The Sandy Hook Effect: Public support for stricter gun control laws grew sharply after the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. A Gallup poll conducted on December 19-22, 2012, just days after the shooting, found that 58% of Americans favored strengthening laws governing the sale of firearms, up from 43% in 2011. Interestingly, in the December 19-22, 2012 poll, only 44% favored the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban, compared to 60% in the most recent poll.