According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, support for gun control has grown since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — but a majority of Americans still oppose reinstating the federal assault weapons ban.
The poll finds that 58 percent of Americans say they favor stricter gun laws, significantly up from 43 percent in October of 2011. Similarly, 47 percent now favor passing new legislation over merely enforcing existing laws, up from 35 percent in 2011.
Many of the reforms that gun control advocates most frequently propose poll very well — 92 percent support requiring background checks to buy weapons at gun shows, and 62 percent favor a ban on high-capacity magazines that can carry up to 30 bullets.
Voters are still skeptical of reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, however. The poll finds that only 44 percent favor the law, while 51 percent oppose it; those numbers are nearly unchanged from last year, when 43 percent supported the law and 53 percet opposed it.
California senator Dianne Feinstein has vowed to introduce a bill “to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices” in January, and President Barack Obama has repeatedly signaled his support for such a ban. As this poll shows however, despite the positive gains by the gun control movement in the wake of the Newtown shooting, securing its passage will be a difficult uphill battle.
“That’s an example of where the gun lobby’s narrative has taken root and needs to be overcome,” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence president Dan Gross told USA Today. “If the poll is accurate, it shows we have a little work to do on that one.”
The poll suggests one other challenge to reinstating the assault weapons ban: the enduring popularity of the National Rifle Association. Despite CEO Wayne LaPierre’s widely panned response to the Newtown shooting, 54 percent of voters still have a favorable opinion of the NRA, compared to just 38 percent who view it unfavorably.
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