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New poll finds 97 percent support gun background checks

A makeshift memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Support for stricter gun laws has increased again in the wake of the most recent mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., and there is near-unanimous support for universal background checks, a new Quinnipiac University poll has found.

Ninety-seven percent of respondents to the poll, conducted in the days after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed, said they wanted to see background check requirements for every gun buyer in the United States. Sixty-seven percent said they supported a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, up from 56 percent in 2013.

Background checks are required nationally for anyone looking to purchase a firearm through a licensed gun dealer, but the specifics vary by state, and there’s a major loophole in the law allowing many buyers to purchase firearms from private sellers without a background check.


Federal background checks “ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase,” the FBI says.

In Massachusetts, residents must get a state license before buying a firearm, and the applicant for a license must have a background check conducted by the FBI, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The number of those polled who said they wanted stricter gun laws has been on the rise in recent years as Americans experienced deadly mass shootings in Parkland; Las Vegas; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Orlando; and San Bernardino, Calif.

“If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again. Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement Tuesday.

Despite public support for such measures, little has changed. An effort to ban the sale of so-called “bump stocks” used in the October massacre in Las Vegas failed last year without being brought up for a vote. The lack of legislation has prompted an outcry from the survivors of the most recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.


Students there have taken to social media to advocate for changes to gun laws and are planning a “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., next month.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted among 1,249 voters nationwide between Feb. 16 to 19 via landline and cellphone, and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.