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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

 US gun control support at highest level measured, poll finds

Two-to-one margin in favour of a ban on sales of assault weapons

A gun enthusiast attends the a show three days after a mass shooting less than 50km away at the Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. AFP/Michele Eve Sandberg
A gun enthusiast attends the a show three days after a mass shooting less than 50km away at the Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. AFP/Michele Eve Sandberg

United States voters say they want stricter gun laws, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Quinnipiac University two days after a school shooting in Florida left 17 people dead on February 14.

The findings mark the highest level of support for gun control measured by the poll, according to Quinnipiac.

Students who survived within hours were calling for stricter gun laws including a ban on assault weapons, and are leading plans for protests at schools across the country to demand action.

“Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll, said in a statement. About 66 per cent now say they support tougher rules versus 31 per cent opposed. The pollster, based in Connecticut, says it began focusing on the issue in the wake of the 2012 shooting at nearby Sandy Hook elementary school.

Quinnipiac’s poll of 1,249 voters found 97 per cent of respondents want universal background checks. Voters want by a two-to-one margin a ban on the sale of assault weapons, and by a five-to-one margin want a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases. Even among firearm owners, 50 per cent support stricter gun laws, while 44 per cent are happy with the status quo.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed attorney general Jeff Sessions to draft regulations banning bump stocks - devices that rapidly increase gun firing rates, which have been used in mass shootings including the Las Vegas massacre last year when 58 people were killed and 851 wounded by a lone gunman.

Mr Trump, who last week visited medical staff and patients being treated at a hospital following the latest Florida attack, also supports efforts to improve the federal background check system, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday.