Gun Buyer Checks Backed by 9 in 10 Voters, Poll Shows

More than 9 in 10 American voters, including those who own firearms, favor background checks for all gun buyers, according to a poll released today.

The survey by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University shows respondents favoring checks, 92 percent to 7 percent, similar to the 91 percent to 8 percent support among voters in gun-owning households. Even 89 percent of Republicans supported the proposal.

“There is no significant voter opposition to requiring background checks for gun buyers,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute.

The Quinnipiac survey also showed that Americans backed allowing women in combat by 75 percent to 22 percent. Men and women split over whether women in combat would enhance military effectiveness; 36 percent of men said effectiveness would be enhanced and 34 percent said it would be compromised. Among women, 46 percent said effectiveness would be enhanced and 30 percent said it would be compromised.

On another national issue, 56 percent endorsed allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and apply for citizenship. Another 10 percent said undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. while ineligible for citizenship, while 30 percent said they should be required to leave.

In responding to the December mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama and Democratic members of Congress have backed requiring all gun purchasers to undergo background checks, now mandated only for transactions involving federally licensed gun dealers.

Assault-Weapons Ban

Other proposals made following the killings of 20 students and six adults at a Newtown elementary school also were supported by a majority of respondents. The poll showed that a ban on assault weapons was backed, 56 percent to 39 percent, and a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines was supported, 56 percent to 40 percent.

Fifty-two percent of registered voters supported stricter gun laws, while 43 percent didn’t. That’s little unchanged from July 2008, when stricter laws were backed, 54 percent to 40 percent.

At the same time, 46 percent said the National Rifle Association, which has come out against any new laws, better reflected their views on guns, while 43 percent said Obama did. And the poll showed that 37 percent were more likely to support a lawmaker who voted to ban assault weapons while 31 percent said they were less likely.

The survey of 1,772 registered voters was conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 4 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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