American public backs tightening of regulations … with women in the vanguard

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ALMOST six out of ten Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of last month’s school massacre in Connecticut, with most also favouring a ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, films and television shows, according to a new poll.

Eighty-four per cent of adults would like to see the establishment of a federal standard for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, the poll showed.

Three-quarters of the 1,004 Americans surveyed said they reacted to the Connecticut shootings with deep anger, while 54 per cent said they felt deeply ashamed it could happen in the United States.

Some 58 per cent favoured strengthening gun laws in the United States. Just 5 per cent felt such laws should be loosened, while 35 per cent said they should be left unchanged.

In comparison, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 – in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people – an Ipsos poll found that 47 per cent wanted stricter gun laws, 38 per cent thought they should remain unaltered and 11 per cent wanted to see them relaxed.

Specifically, most people in the new poll for GfK favoured an America-wide ban on military-style, rapid-fire guns (55 per cent) and limits on the amount and type of gun violence that can be portrayed in video games, films or on TV (54 per cent). About half (51 per cent) of those surveyed back a ban on the sale of magazines holding ten or more bullets.

At the same time, 51 per cent said that they believed laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the US public’s constitutional right to possess and carry firearms. Among Republicans, 75 per cent cited such infringement.

Most Democrats (76 per cent) and independents (60 per cent) back stricter gun laws, while a majority of Republicans (53 per cent) want gun laws left alone.

There is also a gender gap in American public opinion.

Gun control is a more important issue for women, with 68 per cent saying it was very or extremely important to them, than for men (57 per cent).

And women are more likely to back stricter gun laws: 67 per cent favour them, compared with 49 per cent of men.