Conservative media outlets have been touting a recent poll that claims the majority of Americans oppose gun background checks, however, other polls say most Americans do support the background checks.
The Pew Research Center recently polled a group of people on the gun background check bill in the Senate. In the poll, 39% had a "positive reaction" to the bill being defeated, while 20 percent were "very happy."
However, a recent Washington Postpoll showed that 91% of Americans support gun background checks at gun shows, which were included in the defeated Senate bill.
In a Gallup poll released this week, Americans were asked: “Do you think the Senate should or should not have passed the measure to expand background checks for gun purchases?” 65% of the people polled said "yes." The same group of people was also asked: “Would you vote for or against a law that would require background checks for all gun purchases?” A whopping 83% said they would vote "yes," which included people who opposed the Senate voting for background checks.
Both questions — the one asking about the Senate vote, and the referendum asking whether respondents would themselves vote for a law — refer to the concept of new legislation. Presumably the types of objections to the Senate bill noted above could also pertain to the law asked about in the referendum question.
Thus, these explanations do not necessarily help explain the discrepancy between the support level for the Senate bill and the support for a law voted on in a national referendum. But they do highlight that some opponents of the Senate bill apparently have concerns about not just the content of the bill, but also its effectiveness.
Apparently, the overlap was high among self-identified Republicans. 45% said the Senate should not have voted to expand background checks, but then 73% said they would vote to require background checks.