Two thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws: poll

Americans love their guns, but in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, a new poll shows two out of every three voters support stricter gun control laws (AFP Photo/Michele Eve Sandberg) (AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - Americans support stricter gun laws by a more-than two-to-one margin, one of the highest levels on record, a polling agency reported Tuesday one week after the latest US school shooting left 17 people dead.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has shocked many Americans, inspired students to launch campaigns to reduce gun violence, and put Congress and President Donald Trump's administration in the spotlight as they consider what changes, if any, should be made to the country's gun laws.

Voters support tightening gun laws by 66 to 31 percent, according to Quinnipiac University's national poll, which described the margin as "the highest level of support" since it began surveys on the question in 2008.

The poll also found that a majority of gun owners, 50 percent to 44 percent, backed stricter gun laws, and that their support specifically for universal background checks rose to an overwhelming 97 percent, against just three percent who opposed such checks or expressed no opinion.

"If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again," Quinnipiac poll assistant director Tim Malloy said in a statement.

"Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years," he added, referring to December 2015 poll data that showed 47 percent of voters supported tightening such laws.

When broken down by political party, however, the latest results show that just 34 percent of Republicans support stricter gun laws, compared with 86 percent of Democrats.

Trump signaled support Monday for a bipartisan effort to expand and improve a national system of background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

Several legislative proposals were introduced after a shooter killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, including a ban on semi-automatic weapons like the one used last week in Florida, banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets and a universal background check bill.

None has made it into law.