The recent record of inaction in the halls of Congress doesn’t show it, but new poll found Americans are, in fact, willing to support legislative actions to stop gun violence.
The survey released late Tuesday by United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection found that 62% of Americans would back a lifetime ban on gun sales for people with a police rap sheet or background of violence. About 32% are against that kind of proposal.
In theory, such a law would have applied to someone like Aaron Alexis, the gunman who killed 12 in shooting rampage last week at the Washington Navy Yard. The 34-year-old U.S. Navy veteran had a history of run-ins with the law and gun violence.
Results also revealed that 71% said “there’s something that can be done through public policies” to help prevent more mass shootings – like the Navy Yard, like Newtown, like Aurora, like Tucson. It was a popular stance across party, gender and race lines. But, 24% disagreed.
Nearly 80% said they thought universal backgrounds on gun sales and increased attention to mental health care efforts would help reduce these shooting sprees becoming all too frequent.
“We have now seen so many mass shootings in this country committed by individuals who were able to pass gun background checks despite multiple red flags in their criminal and/or mental health background,” said Ladd Everitt, director of communications at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I think after the Navy Yard shooting, Americans are disgusted that Aaron Alexis was able to legally buy a gun and looking for real remedies from our Congress,” he told MSNBC in an emailed statement, pointing to other examples of Jared Loughner and James Holmes. “When you consider that the existing prohibitions that disqualify gun buyers really haven’t been updated since 1968, it might be time for lawmakers to come back to the table and glean lessons from research that has been published since that time.”
Confronting the lack of progress on gun control, a frustrated President Obama echoed that sentiment in a speech given at a memorial service for Navy Yard shooting victims over the weekend, saying “we can’t accept this” new normal.
“It ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation,” Obama said on Sunday. “Alongside the anguish of these American families, alongside the accumulated outrage so many of us feel, sometimes I fear there’s a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is.”
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, argued “there weren’t enough good guys with guns” to stop the deadly Navy Yard assault.