Gun Control Debate: Support For Stricter Gun Laws Drops As Democrats Ready To Push Bill, Poll

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Gun-Control Protester
People hold signs memorializing Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 children and adults were killed in a mass shooting last December, as they participate in the March on Washington for Gun Control on the National Mall in Washington on Jan. 26.

As Democratic lawmakers in the Senate prepare a gun control package they hope will prevent incidents like Sandy Hook, a new poll found a decline in the support for stricter gun laws.

According to a CBS News poll of 1,181 adults nationwide between March 20 and 24, support for stricter gun control laws dropped 10 percentage points to 47 percent since the killing of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last December. Furthermore, 39 percent of those polled want the laws to remain as they are while 11 percent think the laws should be less strict.

The polls reflect the divide on Capitol Hill -- more Republicans (52 percent) said the laws should stay as they are while Democrats (66 percent) want to see them made stricter. That is a 12 percentage point drop on the part of Democrats, from 78 percent in February in another CBS poll on the subject.

The latest poll also showed disparity among gun owners. Half of gun owners said the law should stay the same while only a quarter want the laws to be stricter.

But different polls are finding different things.

Take, for instance, a Fox News poll of 1,002 registered voters nationwide conducted March 17 to 19. When respondents were asked what they think will most likely reduce gun violence, 26 percent favor stricter gun control laws, 24 percent think better health services is what it takes, yet 37 percent say it rests with better parenting.

And when CNN polled 1,021 adults nationwide between March 15 and 17, concerning what statement about gun control comes closest to their views, 17 percent say there should be no restrictions on owning a gun, 70 percent think there should be some restrictions and 12 percent say guns should be illegal except for police and other authorized personnel. When that question was asked between Dec. 17 and 18 last year, just days after the Sandy Hook massacre, 13 percent said they favor no restrictions, 71 percent want some restrictions on gun ownership while 15 percent think guns should be illegal.

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, President Barack Obama proposed several gun violence measures that include an assault weapons ban, improvements in mental health, universal background checks and limits on high-capacity magazines.

However, an assault weapons ban bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is losing steam in Congress and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will not include it in the bill because of the lack of support.

At the moment, the Senate Democrats' gun control bill could include universal background checks, tougher penalties for gun trafficking and an increase in school safety grants. The measure will likely be debated next month.

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