Poll shows bipartisan support for expanding background checks

Poll shows bipartisan support for expanding background checks
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Democrats and Republicans support expanding background checks to private gun sales and sales at gun shows, a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday showed.

The July survey of 2,002 adults found that 88 percent of Americans — including 88 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans ­— favor expanding background checks, up slightly from the 81 percent of Americans who supported the measure in May 2013.

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Pew Research Center said little has changed from the last survey, which was done shortly after the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. 

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans, 79 percent, favor laws that prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns, and 7 percent back the creation of a federal database to track all gun sales, while a smaller majority of 57 percent supports a ban on assault-style weapons.

The poll found that 85 percent of Democrats favor creation of a database for the federal government to track gun sales, compared with 55 percent of Republicans. While 70 percent of Democrats back an assault weapon ban, only about half of Republicans, 48 percent, favor that proposal.

Pew Research Center said the public continues to be more evenly divided in fundamental attitudes about whether it is more important to control gun ownership or to protect the right of Americans to own guns.

“Currently, 50 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 47 percent say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns,” the D.C.-based think tank said. “Since December 2014, when support for gun rights reached a two-decade high, the share prioritizing gun rights has fallen five percentage points, while the percentage saying it is more important to control gun ownership has increased four points.”