Poll: Americans Warm to Gun Control, Still Not Sure If We Need It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 17 2012 11:33 AM

Poll: Americans Warm to Gun Control, Still Not Sure If We Need It

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NEWTOWN, CT - DECEMBER 16: Teddy bears, flowers and candles in memory of those killed, are left at a memorial down the street from the Sandy Hook School December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot dead, including twenty children, after a gunman identified as Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza also reportedly had committed suicide at the scene. A 28th person, believed to be Nancy Lanza, found dead in a house in town, was also believed to have been shot by Adam Lanza. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The new ABC News/Washington Post poll has the first somewhat-positive news for gun control advocates in a very, very long time. That's what happens to an issue when both parties basically back away from it.

Here's the number that moved: 54 percent of people say they favor "stricter gun control laws." There aren't many polls that ask such a generic question, but the 2011 Gallup Poll on guns found only 43 percent of Americans backing a ban on automatic weapons or stricter laws governing sales.

Here's the number that might matter legislatively: 59 percent of people say they favor a ban on high-capacity magazines. That dial started to move after Jared Lee Loughner shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and was stopped only when he had to reload, and a near-victim took the moment to hit him with a folding chair.

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And here's the solace-providing number for the NRA and Republicans: A plurality of voters, 49 percent, say that we need to enforce "current laws" and call it a day. That's exactly what John Boehner says when this issue comes up.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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