More evidence emerged Thursday to show that expanded background checks on gun purchases remain enormously popular with the public, even as legislation on them appears to be losing traction in the Senate.
The latest poll from Quinnipiac University showed a staggering 88 percent of registered voters nationwide — including 85 percent of voters with guns in their households — support background checks for all gun buyers.
Those findings are hardly a new development. Polls conducted since the December massacre in Newtown, Conn., have shown background checks to be perhaps the most popular gun policy proposal under consideration.
A CBS News poll released last month showed 91 percent supporting universal background checks. Quinnipiac’s previous national poll conducted in late January and early February found 92 percent of voters in favor a law requiring background checks for all firearms purchases. In January, Gallup showed support for universal background checks at 91 percent.
Support is similarly widespread for background checks on private gun sales — the largest dispute between the two parties on the issue and the biggest obstacle to making the proposal a legislative reality. The inaugural Pew Research Center/USA Today poll last month showed 83 percent of respondents in favor of making private gun purchases and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. A Fox News poll in January found 91 percent of registered voters backing background checks for purchases at gun shows and private sales.
The timing of Quinnipiac’s latest poll is notable in that it came a day after a bipartisan Senate bill to expand background checks appeared to be crumbling, with talks between Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) falling through on Wednesday. Sens. Joe Macnhin (D-WV) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) issued a joint statement saying they “cannot support” Schumer’s bill, but insisted they will continue to seek “a commonsense compromise.”
With those talks hitting a roadblock, Schumer diverged from the compromise, saying he would go it alone and reintroduce a bill requiring background checks on both private and commercial purchases in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
Gun control proponents, meanwhile, continued to apply pressure on lawmakers to pass the proposal that had been considered the best bet to earn congressional approval. The Michael Bloomberg-led group Mayors Against Illegal Guns on Thursday released comprehensive poll results detailing the overwhelming support for universal background checks in various states and congressional districts.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.