Study by Emerson College students shows 55 percent of U.S. citizens want stricter gun laws

A display of 7-round .45 caliber handguns are seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York.

A group of local college students today released the findings of a national survey on gun control

The survey, which was conducted by the recently revived Emerson College Polling Society over the weekend, shows that 55 percent of people would support stricter gun laws while only 12 percent favored less strict gun laws.
As lawmakers propose new gun control measures, the survey suggests that universal background checks on gun buyers are supported by 83 percent of respondents, and a ban on assault weapons is supported by 60 percent of the respondents. On other policies under consideration, 58 percent of those polled favor a ban on magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. On another hotly contested issue, 51 percent support a ban on video games that depict gun violence with 29 percent opposing such legislation.
The most contentious policy among those polled is on the placement of armed guards in schools:  47 percent support such placement with 36 percent opposing.  There are gender differences on this policy; 55 percent of males support armed guards in schools, with only 39 percent of women favoring this policy.
Grey VanDeMark, president of the polling society, said that GOP lawmakers ought not to oppose all gun control measures, as the poll found that “64 percent of Republicans support universal background checks and 38 percent of Republicans support a ban on assault weapons.”
Within the context of the Newtown, C.T. shooting, 33 percent of those polled identified the cause as a lack of mental health facilities, 23 percent identified the availability of guns, and 18 percent said that violent themes in media and video games contributed to the shooting.
There was a clear divide between Democrats and Republicans on such issues.  Forty-three percent of Democrats identified the availability of guns as the primary cause, as compared to 6 percent of Republicans. Forty-one percent of Republicans attributed the mass shootings to the lack of mental health care, while 26 percent of Democrats agree.
Gun control was not seen by the respondents as the most important issue facing the country however; the deficit – 30 percent – and the need for jobs -30 percent – were rated more important than gun control – 7 percent.

Other Key Findings:
65 percent of respondents were able to correctly define “assault weapon” as automatic or semi-automatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use.
Among those polled, President Barack Obama had a 50 percent favorable rating. House Speaker John Boehner had a 27 percent favorable rating and a 53 percent unfavorable opinion.
Forty-nine percent of the overall sample had a favorable view of the National Rifle Association. However, only 17 percent of Democrats surveyed view the NRA positively.
Among those surveyed who were identified as members of the NRA,  65 percent support universal background checks on gun buyers. Forty-five percent of the participants in the survey own a gun.

Data was collected between Jan. 18 and  Jan. 20 using an automated data collection system. The national survey consisted of 1,290 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.6 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

The full survey and results are available at the polling group’s website.


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