Support for stricter gun control rises 18 percent in latest poll

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer
Demonstrators at the March for Action on Gun Violence in Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 17. (Photo: Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Support for stricter gun laws has jumped 18 points since October, with 70 percent of Americans calling for action, according to a new poll released Sunday by CNN.

Responding to the question “Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws?” seven in 10 respondents said they were in favor.

The gun control debate was reignited earlier this month after 17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. When the same question was asked in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting in October, only 52 percent of respondents said yes.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning that he hoped his bill with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to expand background checks had a chance at a vote.

“I’ve spent a lot of hours on the phone and communicating other ways with my colleagues this week,” said Toomey. “I do think there are some members who were not supportive in the past and are reconsidering. I haven’t gotten anyone who said, ‘Yes, sign me up,’ but there are definitely members who are reconsidering. The president’s expression of support for strengthening our background check system is very constructive.”

Slideshow: Florida school shooting prompts gun-control rallies >>>

The bill, originally crafted in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., fell in April 2013 after four Democrats and 41 Republicans voted no. It failed again in 2015 in the wake up the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting. It seems unlikely any sort of gun control legislation could pass the House, where the conservative faction is demanding to include a measure that would allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits to take their weapons across state lines.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., a combat veteran who lost his legs in Afghanistan, wrote a New York Times op-ed this weekend explaining why he now supported a ban on assault weapons. He elaborated further on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“It pains me to know that I went out there willing to defend my country, willing to give everything with almost the exact same weapon that’s used to go out there and unfortunately kill children in Parkland,” said Mast. “I think there’s a very real opportunity here for response and here for action, and that’s what really brought me to my change of heart in talking about this.”

Students from Montgomery County, Md., rally in solidarity with those affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Slideshow: High school students across the U.S. protest gun violence >>>

The CNN poll released Sunday found 57 percent approval for a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of rifles like the AR-15, which was used in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. A similar proposal was floated by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., during a town hall Wednesday evening. While Rubio seemingly meant to imply such a measure would be impossible, he was met with raucous applause by the crowd in attendance.

President Trump, whose position on gun control has varied, is still at odds with the National Rifle Association on one proposal: raising the age limit for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said Sunday morning on ABC News’ “This Week” that the group still opposed that proposal. Trump has also urged his Justice Department to look into banning bump stocks, a device used by the Las Vegas shooter that allows semiautomatic weapons to be fired like full automatics. The state of Washington began the process of banning the device last week.

Trump’s proposed plan of arming teachers was dismissed as a “distraction” by Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents the Parkland area, suggesting time would be better spent focusing on background checks, bump stocks and mental health.

Slideshow: Gun control rally in Tallahassee; Parkland students meet with lawmakers >>>

Attempting to keep gun control in the news, the Never Again movement — founded by survivors of the Parkland shooting — has scheduled a series of March for Our Lives demonstrations on March 24, with the main rally occurring in Washington, D.C. The GoFundMe for the march has already exceeded $2.5 million including much-publicized donations from the likes of George and Amal Clooney, Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Oprah Winfrey and the fashion company Gucci.

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