Gun control supporters can point to broad and consistent public support for expanded background checks. Fully 81% favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, little changed since January (85%). The proposal draws nearly equal levels of support from Democrats (83%), Republicans (81%) and independents (80%).

However, the Senate bill on background checks is far more divisive. Republicans are decidedly less supportive of this legislation than of the general idea of making private gun sales subject to background checks; 57% support the Senate bill, while 81% favor expanding background checks. Many of those who have reservations about the bill express concerns that it includes other restrictions beyond background checks, or that it opens a “slippery slope” toward more government power.

The survey finds that gun control supporters continue to lag gun rights advocates on most measures of political activism. However, nearly as many gun control supporters (9%) as opponents (11%) say that in the last six months they have contacted a public official to express their opinion on gun policy.