In the wake of two of the most fatal mass shootings in modern U.S. history, polling indicates that a vast majority of American voters support universal background checks for gun purchases nationwide. A majority of respondents also supported prohibiting the sale of assault weapons.
On Nov. 15, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 95 percent of registered voters supported background checks for all gun purchases across the country. Of those polled, 94 percent who lived in households with a gun owner also supported universal background checks.
The poll found 65 percent of voters support banning assault weapon sales nationwide, and 51 percent of respondents from gun-owning households were in favor of the measure.
Breaking down the data, 91 percent of voters said that people convicted of violent crimes should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. In addition, 62 percent of respondents were in support of more regulation of ammunition sales while 34 percent were against. In terms of specific items, 74 percent of respondents supported a ban on bump stocks, accessories that modify guns to fire at a faster rate.
The survey found that voters believed that gun laws were too relaxed but less likely to attribute an increase in mass shootings to existing laws. Fifty-nine percent of voters said that it was too easy to purchase a firearm in America. The poll found 37 percent of respondents cited current gun laws as the primary contributor to mass shootings while 52 percent said that lack of access to mental health care was a more urgent reason.
Thirty-four percent of voters said that stricter gun laws would reduce the rate of mass shootings while 62 percent were skeptical.
"With each American gun massacre, there is stronger voter support for tighter gun control measures," said Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Tim Malloy. "But the cynical view prevails. Stricter laws will do no good whatsoever in a country with more guns than people."
On Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people attending a concert in Las Vegas. Paddock had fitted his rifle with a bump stock, enabling him to fire up to 100 rounds in seven seconds. Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to explore banning the accessory. The ATF has stated it cannot regulate the device without congressional action, The Washington Post reports.
On Nov. 5, former U.S. Airman Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 parishioners at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kelley had been court-martialed for domestic violence in 2012 but the Air Force had not relayed the charge to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, CNN reports.
On Nov. 16, GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut unveiled a bipartisan bill that would compel agencies and states to more diligently upload their records to the NICS.
"For years agencies and states haven't complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence," Cornyn said in a statement, according to NBC News. "Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms."