President Donald Trump said Wednesday “there is no political appetite” for an assault-weapons ban “at this moment.” Voters — including the majority of Republican voters — disagree.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows nearly seven-in-10 registered voters, 69 percent, support banning assault-style weapons, including 57 percent who “strongly support” such a ban. Only 23 percent of voters oppose an assault-weapons ban.
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Support for banning assault weapons cuts across parties, though it is strongest among Democrats. Majorities of Democrats (86 percent), Republicans (55 percent) and independents (65 percent) support banning assault weapons.
The poll was conducted Aug. 5-7, in the immediate wake of two mass shootings. A lone gunman killed 22 people on Saturday at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Then, early Sunday morning, another gunman murdered nine people in Dayton, Ohio.
In the past, support for stricter gun laws has spiked in surveys from POLITICO/Morning Consult and other pollsters after mass shootings. Support typically recedes in the weeks following these incidents, though many of the measures being proposed in the wake of this week’s shootings remain broadly — and, in some cases, overwhelmingly — popular even outside of these temporal surges.
Overall, nearly three-in-four voters, 73 percent, support stricter gun laws, the poll shows — up from 67 percent in the spring of 2018. The remaining 27 percent oppose stricter gun laws. Majorities of Democrats (91 percent), Republicans (54 percent) and independents (70 percent) support stricter gun laws.
Voters in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll almost unanimously want mandatory, universal background checks. More than nine-in-10 voters, 91 percent, support requiring background checks for all gun sales. Only 5 percent of voters oppose background checks.
While Trump poured cold water Wednesday on a possible assault-weapons ban, he said he was optimistic background-check legislation could reach his desk, despite past congressional inaction on the issue.
“There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks. And I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before,” Trump said. “I think both Republican[s] and Democrat[s] are getting close to a bill on — to doing something with background checks.”
But a number of other proposed measures are also very popular, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows. Nearly nine-in-10, 89 percent, want to prevent gun sales to people who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by mental health providers. Only 6 percent of voters oppose those restrictions.
Eighty-four percent of voters want to prevent people convicted of violent misdemeanors from purchasing guns. A similar percentage, 83 percent, support limiting gun purchases to only those 21 and older. Eighty percent think there should be a mandatory, three-day waiting period before someone can take home a gun. More than seven-in-10, 72 percent, support banning high-capacity magazines.
But although voters support these measures, they aren’t optimistic Congress will act, even after this weekend’s shootings. Fewer than four-in-10, 39 percent, say they think it’s very or somewhat likely Congress passes gun-control legislation in the next year. A slight majority, 52 percent, say it’s either not very likely or not likely at all.
Backing for a number of gun-safety measures also doesn’t mean voters have antipathy for gun rights. Voters are split when asked which is more important: limiting gun ownership (44 percent) or protecting Americans’ right to own guns (44 percent).
And slightly more voters say the National Rifle Association supports policies that are mostly good for the U.S., 39 percent, than mostly bad for the U.S., 36 percent.
But between federal inaction on gun control and the El Paso shooter’s apparent political motive, the poll suggests voters believe Trump should be doing more.
“Voters are more inclined to hold President Trump responsible for mass shootings following this weekend’s gun violence in Dayton and El Paso,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “Notably, 30 percent of voters say they blame President Trump ‘a lot’ for mass shootings, compared to 21 percent who said the same after the Parkland school massacre.”
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll surveyed 1,960 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.