Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans generally favor stricter gun control laws, and there has been a big jump in the number of Americans who say that gun policy is extremely important, according to a new national poll.
But a CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday also indicates that the increase is only good enough to move gun control to the middle of the pack when it comes to the issues that Americans think are most important to deal with over the next year.
The CNN survey's Wednesday release comes one day before the Senate plans to vote on whether to open debate on gun control legislation that some Republicans have pledged to filibuster. That bill includes increased background checks for gun sales. A CNN poll released earlier Wednesday indicated widespread support for such a move, but the new survey finds just bare majorities backing other proposals, such as bans on extended ammunition magazines and rifles capable of semi-automatic firing.
The survey indicates that one thing standing in the way of passing stricter national gun laws is the growing perception among gun owners that the federal government is trying to take away their right to own a weapon. At the start of the year, 53% of Americans in a household with a gun said that they thought the government was trying to take away their rights; now that number has grown to 62% of all gun households.
"Not surprisingly, most people in gun households oppose tougher gun laws, while most people in a household without a gun support tougher gun control," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Gun owners and Americans without guns agree on the importance of Congress and the president dealing with gun policy this year, although they presumably want different outcomes."
Overall, 40% of Americans say that it is extremely important for government officials to deal with gun policy this year and another 31% say it is very important. That's substantially higher than the number of thought gun policy was important in previous years - a reflection of the amount of attention gun policy has gotten in the wake of December's horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 young children and six adults dead.
Despite that increase in importance, gun policy continues to rank behind the economy, the federal budget deficit, health care and Social Security in terms of overall importance to the public.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.