The vast majority of Americans remain in overwhelming support of universal background checks on all gun purchases even several months after Republicans stymied new gun control legislation in Congress.
Nearly 90% of Americans support background checks, a number basically unchanged from polls taken in the aftermath of last year’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday. Support for background checks among voters in gun-owning households also remained high, with 88% in favor of the checks.
More generally, 54% of those polled support stricter gun control laws.
The killings at Sandy Hook sparked renewed debate over gun control, but the national fervor and outrage dimmed with time and as Congress hopped from national crisis to national crisis.
But in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this one last month at the Washington Navy Yard in which a deranged gunmen killed 12 people, there is once again renewed attention on America’s guns and how best to control them.
Despite the overwhelming support for background checks for gun buyers, 61% of Americans surveyed in the Quinnipiac poll said that stricter gun laws would not have prevented the Navy Yard massacre.
"Americans somewhat favor more gun control but more than three in five say stricter gun control would not have stopped the Washington Navy Yard shooter," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Following the Navy Yard shooting, President Obama again called on lawmakers and the American people to step up efforts to rein in gun laws and a broad gun culture that has made it relatively easy for guns to land in the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
Obama said that he feared that mass shootings and the tragedy of run of the mill gun violence experienced every day in cities across the country is the “new normal.”
“We can’t accept this,” Obama said, calling on Congress to shirk politics for the goodwill of the people, during a memorial service for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting.
“I do not accept that we cannot find a commonsense way to preserve our traditions, including our basic Second Amendment freedoms and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, while at the same time reducing the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem on a regular basis,” Obama said. “Do we care enough to keep standing up for the country that we know is possible, even if it’s hard, and even if it’s politically uncomfortable? Do we care enough to sustain the passion and the pressure to make our communities safer and our country safer? Do we care enough to do everything we can to spare other families the pain that is felt here today?”
“Our tears are not enough,” he said. “Our words and our prayers are not enough.”
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has said that another vote on background checks will happen no sooner than 2014 ahead of the mid-term elections.
Meanwhile, as Washington remains stalled on the gun issue, states are taking action. Some states, including Connecticut and Colorado, have bolstered their existing gun laws. As others, including a slew of mostly southern states, have introduced legislation or laws that loosen already lax gun laws.
In Colorado, the scene of two mass shootings in the last 15 years— at Columbine High School and a movie theater in Aurora— the pro-gun set has successfully fired back at supporters of tougher restrictions. In what has been called a major victory for the National Rifle Association, two state lawmakers who supported expanded gun control laws were stripped of their seats in recall elections.
Wednesday’s Quinnipiac University poll also highlighted another headline-grabbing gun policy: Starbucks’.
The coffee chain has allowed gun-toting customers to bring their weapons into its stores as long as they did so in accordance with state law. In September, a group of gun owners announced plans for a “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” The result was a public relations nightmare for Starbucks and counter petitions denouncing the chain.
Soon after, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked that gun owners not bring their weapons into the stores, despite its policy.
Voters supported Schultz’s request 66% to 23%, including 52% to 35% in gun-owning households.
Fifteen percent said that Starbucks' request makes them more likely to sip there, while 11% said it made them less likely to.
"Two-thirds of voters prefer their Starbucks coffee without a shot as they back the coffee-seller's plea to keep guns out of the store," Brown said.