A majority of Americans support stricter gun control laws, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, according to a poll released today following the murder of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newton, Conn.
The ABC News/Washington Post survey showed 54 percent of respondents backing new limits on gun rights, with 43 percent opposed. When asked about banning ammunition clips that contain more than 10 bullets, 59 percent supported the idea, while 38 percent opposed it. In addition, 52 percent backed a ban on semiautomatic handguns, with 44 percent in opposition.
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The suspect in the Dec. 14 Connecticut killings, Adam Lanza, brought handguns and an assault rifle to Sandy Hook Elementary School before embarking on the second-deadliest U.S. school shooting. In 2007, 33 people died at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg.
Majorities have consistently supported gun control measures going back to 1993, when 60 percent were in favor of stronger laws, according to surveys. Congress banned certain assault weapons in 1994, though then-President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress didn't renew the prohibition when it expired 10 years later.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said yesterday she would move to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
Forty-nine percent of respondents in the Post poll said the best way to reduce gun violence was by enforcing existing laws, compared with 32 percent who called for new legislation. In January 2011, 57 percent called for enforcing existing measures while 29 percent said new laws were needed.
The survey of 602 adults was conducted Dec. 14-16 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.