A strong majority of voters support banning the kind of semi-automatic rifle that was used earlier this month in a massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
According to the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris survey, 61 percent say that the AR-15 should be banned from purchase, compared to 39 percent who say that adults who pass background checks should be able to purchase them.
Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter, reportedly used an AR-15, which is categorized in some states as an “assault weapon” for having a detachable high-capacity magazine and other military-style features.
There are growing calls from Democrats for an assault weapons ban, although few are advocating for a blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles, a class of guns that include many that are used for hunting.
President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE once supported a ban on assault weapons but changed his position as he campaigned for the GOP nomination in 2016. The White House says Trump does not currently support an assault weapons ban.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris survey also found that 57 percent of voters believe that school shootings are driven by a lack of attention to mental health issues, rather than a lack of gun control.
Trump has called the Florida shooter a “sicko” and said that the country has to take measures to ensure that those with mental health issues cannot obtain guns.
“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions,” Trump said Monday at a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors.
Still, the poll found that the public is split over the best way to curb school shootings.
Thirty-six percent said banning assault rifles would do the most to stop shootings, while 32 percent said enhancing school security and another 32 percent said increasing commitment to mental health issues would do so.
“The public wants a solution not just to guns but to school safety and that means better mental health programs, greater security and some gun restrictions as well,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “They want action on all fronts.”
The Harvard CAPS-Harris online survey of 1,934 registered voters was conducted between Feb. 16-19. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 4 percent other.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2018.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.