A smaller majority, 57 percent, also continues to favor banning assault weapons, a measure said to be less likely to prevail in Congress. Support has declined slightly for a fourth proposal, the National Rifle Association’s suggestion to place armed guards in public schools.
With a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled for today, the poll also shows a sharp political divide on gun control: Americans split evenly, 42-41 percent, on whom they trust more to handle the issue, Barack Obama, who’s been pushing such measures, or the Republicans in Congress, many of whom have been resisting them.
That result reflects the crosscurrents in attitudes on gun control. On one hand the public supports “stricter gun control laws in this country” in general by a fairly narrow 52 to 45 percent, essentially unchanged recently and down from its levels in most of the previous two decades. But support is higher on some specifics; a nearly unanimous 91 percent favor mandatory background checks on gun show sales, and 82 percent support making illegal gun sales a federal crime. Notably, even among opponents of stricter gun control in general, 85 and 73 percent, respectively, support these measures.