Published March 22, 2013
Majorities of American voters favor an array of new gun control proposals, although support for some measures has slipped in the last few months.
A new Fox News poll finds the most popular measure continues to be universal background checks: A large 85-percent majority of voters favors requiring checks on all gun buyers, including at gun shows and private sales. That includes most Democrats (90 percent), Republicans (83 percent) and independents (82 percent), as well as most of those living in a gun-owner household (81 percent).
There is also sizable public support for requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (72 percent) and background checks on ammunition purchases (70 percent).
Slimmer majorities favor banning high-capacity ammunition clips (54 percent) and military-style assault weapons (51 percent). Just over half of voters favor putting armed guards in schools (51 percent).
A bill to reduce gun violence -- which includes universal background checks -- is proceeding in the Senate. Votes are expected on the assault weapons ban and ammunition clip provisions as well.
The legislation was spurred by the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting in December that left 20 children and 6 adults dead.
As that event fades from memory, support for some measures has slipped. The number favoring mental health checks is down 11 percentage points since January, support for armed guards at schools is down 9 points, and support for universal background checks has declined 6 points.
The number favoring a ban on assault weapons mostly held steady (down 3 points), as did support for banning high-capacity magazines (down 2 points).
The new poll finds 48 percent of voters say someone in their household owns a gun. Gun ownership is most common among Tea Partiers (60 percent), those living in rural areas (58 percent), Republicans (56 percent) and Southerners (56 percent).
In general, more voters think better parenting would do more to reduce gun violence (37 percent) than stricter gun control laws (26 percent) or better mental health services (24 percent).
Republicans (52 percent) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (23 percent) to say better parenting is the answer. For independents, the largest number also says parenting (34 percent), while for Democrats the top answer is stricter gun laws (39 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 17 to March 19. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.