Politics

Poll: Most Say Terror Suspects Shouldn't be Able to Buy Guns

Poll shows broad support for stricter gun laws

The national poll , conducted by Quinnipiac University, also found broad — and growing — support for more far-reaching gun control legislation. It comes as Congress is showing the first signs in decades of coming to a consensus on a small but symbolic gun control measure — prohibiting suspected terrorists from buying guns — spurred by the massacre of 49 people with an assault rifle at an Orlando gay nightclub this month, and the closely watched political demonstrations by Democratic lawmakers that followed.  

[ House Plans Vote on Guns Next Week ]  

"American voters clearly are worried about guns," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. " They want to make it harder for bad people to get them and believe it can be done without penalizing legitimate gun owners."  

Democrats across the country  held dozens of gun control demonstrations Wednesday, in an attempt to continue the momentum from a 15-hour filibuster in the Senate and the nearly 26-hour occupation of the House floor last week.  

[ Gun Control Meets Congressional Dysfunction ]  

The issue will be at the forefront when lawmakers return from holiday breaks next week. Both the House and Senate will consider "no fly, no buy" proposals that would prohibit firearm purchases by about 109,000 people on certain watch lists (only 3 percent of them U.S. citizens) who are now barred from commercial airline flights or subjected to heightened levels of screening because the FBI has terrorist suspicions. The FBI would also be alerted to gun purchases by anyone on those lists in the previous five years, language that would have applied to Omar Mateen, the Florida mass shooter .  

Those named in the government’s much bigger terror screening database could still buy guns. And those alleging they were wrongly placed on the lists would have an expedited appeals process and would get their legal fees reimbursed if they prevailed.  

The Quinnipiac poll found that 86 percent of respondents would support such a measure, compared to 12 percent who were opposed. The breakdown in households with guns was 83 to 14 percent in favor.  

Asked whether it is possible to make new gun laws without interfering with gun rights, 64 percent of respondents said yes, 28 percent said no, the poll showed. Voters in gun households agreed by a margin of 59 to 33 percent.  

The poll also found that every listed party, gender, age, education and racial group agreed with both of those findings.  

In other findings, most Americans support background checks for all gun buyers — 93 to 6 percent, including 92 to 8 percent among voters in gun households. Support was 90 percent or higher among every listed group, the poll showed.  

Support for universal background checks ranges has been similarly strong — ranging from 88 percent to 93 percent — in eight Quinnipiac University national polls conducted since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, according to a press release.  

The poll also found that 54 percent of American voters support stricter gun laws in the U.S., compared to 42 percent who do not, the highest level of support ever for this generic question. Women said they supported stricter gun laws 63 to 33 percent, with men opposed 51 to 45 percent.  

Voters in gun-owning households oppose stricter gun laws 56 to 39 percent, the poll showed.  

The poll surveyed 1,610 registered voters nationwide from June 21 to 27, and had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.  

Support in Congress for gun control measures is also growing — though not at the same rate as the general population.  

A  majority of 52 senators supported the "no fly, no buy" package in a test vote last week . In addition to the 44 Democrats who were in town, the group included eight Republicans, three in highly competitive races for re-election: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.  

[ Compromise Gun Measure Survives Key Vote ]  

But the tally was six votes short of what would be required for the measure to pass the Senate, and it may well prove naive to hope for pre-election changes of heart by that many senators. And three GOP incumbents in close contests — Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri — have each taken $4,950 checks in this campaign from the National Rifle Association’s political action committee.  

In the House, however, the same proposal was introduced Friday by a bipartisan group spearheaded by two of the most vulnerable Republicans this election cycle — Carlos Curbelo in South Florida and Robert J. Dold in suburban Chicago.

Contact Akin at  stephanieakin@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at  @stephanieakin .

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