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Majority of Americans Favor Gun Control Laws, Poll Shows

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of Americans support stricter gun-control measures, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, according to a poll released today following the murder of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Connecticut.

The ABC News/Washington Post survey showed 54 percent of respondents backing new limits on gun rights, with 43 percent opposed. When asked about banning ammunition clips that contain more than 10 bullets, 59 percent supported the idea, while 38 percent opposed it. In addition, 52 percent backed a ban on semiautomatic handguns, with 44 percent in opposition.

A Pew Research Center poll also released today showed 47 percent of respondents said the killing rampage reflected problems in U.S. society, while 44 percent said it was an isolated act by one person. Asked about the July shootings in a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people, 67 percent viewed it as an isolated act and 24 percent said it was a societal problem.

The suspect in the Dec. 14 Connecticut killings, Adam Lanza, brought handguns and an assault rifle to Sandy Hook Elementary School before embarking on the second-deadliest U.S. school shooting. He killed himself at the scene, police said. In 2007, 33 people including shooter Seung-Hui Cho died at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg.

In the July 20 shootings in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes is facing charges of first-degree murder.

Assault Weapons Ban

Majorities have consistently supported gun-control measures going back to 1993, when 60 percent were in favor of stronger laws, according to surveys. Congress banned certain assault weapons in 1994, though 10 years later then-President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress didn’t renew the prohibition when it expired.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said she would introduce legislation next month to reinstate the assault-weapons ban.

Forty-nine percent of respondents in the ABC/Post poll said the best way to reduce gun violence was by enforcing existing laws, compared with 32 percent who called for new legislation. In January 2011, 57 percent called for enforcing existing measures while 29 percent said new laws were needed.

The survey of 602 adults was conducted Dec. 14-16 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The Pew poll of 746 adults was taken Dec. 14-16 and had an error margin of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at

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