The Marist Poll released Wednesday found that 84 percent of adults surveyed nationally say they favor background checks for private gun sales and gun show sales. Fifteen percent oppose background checks for those types of sales and 2 percent said they aren't sure. Those findings are the same among registered voters.
The poll's findings come as lawmakers are considering a number of proposals meant to curb gun violence. On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a 10-8 party-line vote, approved a bill that expands background checks for all gun sales. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.) is likely to face strong opposition on the Senate floor.
Schumer had previously been in bipartisan negotiations on a background check bill, but those negotiations fell apart when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) walked away from the negotiations because he could not agree to mandatory record keeping for background checks done by gun dealers or sellers.
The effort to pass new gun bills is in response to the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December that resulted in 28 dead. Since the shooting, lawmakers have called for federal action to reduce gun violence. But Americans are divided on exactly how to go about instituting new gun laws. The Marist poll found that 48 percent of adults think that legislators' priority should be on protecting their gun rights, while 49 percent said the focus should be on reducing gun violence.
Among registered voters, the Marist Poll found an even split. Forty-nine percent say reducing gun violence is the priority, while 49 percent say that the focus should be on protecting Second Amendment rights.
Seventy percent of gun owners want lawmakers to focus more on protecting gun rights, the poll also found.
Broken down by party affiliation, 77 percent of Democrats think it's more important for lawmakers to focus on reducing gun violence and 22 percent say it's more important to protect the rights to own guns.
For Republicans, the majority supports the opposite. Seventy-four percent say it's most important to protect gun rights, while 23 percent say reducing gun violence should be emphasized.
The poll found that 54 percent of Independent voters prioritize defending gun rights first, while 43 percent say reducing gun violence is more important.
The Marist Poll released Wednesday was conducted between March 4 and March 7 among 1,233 adults and 1,068 registered voters. It had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. For registered voters, the margin of error is 3 percentage points.