Polls: Voters favor broad range of new gun-control measures

Americans support a wide range of new measures to combat gun violence, according to a pair of new polls released Monday.

The surveys, preformed by Pew Research and the Washington Post/ABC News, show majority support for background checks, an assault weapons ban, and placing armed police in schools.

The findings are likely to boost the White House as it rallies public support for tougher measures to prevent gun violence in the wake of last month's shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school that left 20 children and 6 school employees dead. 

Among the most popular proposal in either survey was closing the so-called "gun show" loophole, which allows the private sale of guns without a background check. Some 88 percent of those in the Post/ABC survey and 85 percent of those in the Pew poll supported such a measure. 

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Establishing a central database to track gun purchases also earned broad support, with two-thirds of respondents in the Pew survey and 71 percent of the Post/ABC respondents supporting such a plan. And majorities in both the Post/ABC (65 percent) and Pew (54 percent) surveys said they support eliminating the sale of high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons.

On Monday, President Obama said each of those measures were likely to find their way into a legislative package he will detail later in the week.

"The things that I’ve said in the past -- the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn’t have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful -- that those are things I continue to believe make sense," Obama said at a White House press conference.

The assault weapons ban is likely to be a stumbling block in Congress, where Republicans have signaled opposition — and even Democrats have cautioned the president. During a weekend appearance on a Nevada PBS affiliate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) said such legislation was unlikely to pass Congress.

“Let’s be realistic. In the Senate, we’re going to do what we think can get through the House. And I’m not going to be going through a bunch of these gyrations just to say we’ve done something because if we’re really legislators, the purpose of it is to pass legislation,” Reid said.

But an assault weapons ban too garners majority support among those surveyed, with 55 percent of Pew respondents and 58 percent of Post/ABC respondents saying they support such a measure.

Voters are also broadly supportive of a plan floated by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to increase the number of armed security guards or police officers in school buildings. Nearly two-thirds of Pew respondents and 55 percent of those surveyed in the Post/ABC poll said they supported such a measure, which President Obama told NBC News he was "skeptical" about

That's despite generally unfavorable views of the NRA itself. In the Washington Post poll, only 36 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of the group, while a plurality — 38 percent — said the NRA had too much influence over the gun debate. Three in 10 said the group had the "right amount" of influence, while just under a quarter said the NRA had too little influence.

Democrats are far more likely to support new restrictions on guns and ammunition, with no proposal other than closing the gun-show loophole and restricting sales to the mentally ill garnering more than half of Republicans, according to the Pew Poll. Republicans are, however, more supportive of putting armed security guards in school, by a 73-62 percent margin.