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Fewer conservatives support assault weapons ban: poll

Fewer Republicans now support a ban on assault weapons than they did nearly two decades ago, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday.

The number of independents who support such a ban has also dropped starkly since 1999, according to the survey. 

Only 29 percent of Republicans said they would back a ban on assault weapons in the U.S., while 45 percent of independents said the same. That's down significantly from 1999, when more than 7 in 10 Republicans and independents supported the prohibition.

A solid majority of Democrats - 71 percent - still supports such a proposal. 

The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., roughly 25 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale. That attack left 17 people dead and 14 injured. 

The shooting was allegedly carried out by Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Cruz allegedly carried out the shooting with an AR-15, as assault-style rifle that he purchased legally from a dealer in nearby Coral Springs about a year ago. The attack has renewed calls for tighter gun control laws, including a new ban on assault weapons.

Congress banned such firearms in 1994, though the prohibition lasted only 10 years. 

Overall, about half of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, according to the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, compared with 46 percent who oppose such a ban. That shows little change from 2016, when 51 percent support a prohibition on assault weapons.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll of 808 adults was conducted from Feb. 15-18. Its margin of error is 4 percentage points.

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