CNN Poll: Popular background checks also cause worry
April 10th, 2013
05:00 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Popular background checks also cause worry

Washington (CNN) - One day before the full Senate begins debate over a gun control bill that includes increased background checks, a new national survey indicates that nearly nine in ten Americans support tougher background checks.

But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday, a majority also fear that increased background checks would lead to a federal registry of gun owners that could allow the government to take away legally owned weapons.

Eighty-six percent of those questioned in the survey say they support some form of background checks that are not currently required by law for gun sales.

"Some of the proposed additions to the current gun laws are more popular than others," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, "although every new background check tested in the poll wins support from a majority of the American public."

The 86% figure from the CNN/ORC poll is in line with just about every other national survey released over the past couple of months, which found support for increased background checks hovering around the 90% level. And the CNN survey, along with the previous polls, found no real partisan divide, with very strong support for the checks from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

The CNN survey's release comes as the Senate plans to vote on Thursday on whether to open debate on gun control legislation that some Republicans have pledged to filibuster.

President Barack Obama on Monday angrily chided lawmakers reluctant to back gun control legislation, saying the overwhelming support for measures like universal background checks among the American people should force action in Congress.

"If our democracy's working the way it's supposed to, and 90% agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you would think this would not be a heavy lift," Obama said, saying the Republicans who were vowing to filibuster the bill were, in essence, telling Americans that their "opinion doesn't matter."

The president made his comments at an event in Connecticut, the state that was the scene last December of a horrific elementary school shooting that left 20 young students and six adults dead. The incident spurred the current push for legislation to deal with gun violence.

According to the poll, 89% of Americans support the background checks already on the books - those required for purchases at gun stores and other businesses that sell guns. Three proposals, covering gun shows, person-to-person sales, and transfers between family members, would add to the existing laws, and 86% of Americans support at least one of those three additional checks.

The most popular is the gun show proposal, which 83% of all Americans support. Seven in ten favor background checks on prospective buyers trying to purchase a gun from another person who is not a gun dealer but owns a gun and wants to sell it. Least popular is a proposal to require background checks for buyers who are purchasing a gun from a family member or receiving it as a gift. Support for that proposal drops to 54% - still a majority, but not as popular as gun show requirements.

"Support for background checks has fallen slightly since January, possibly as memories of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings have started to fade," adds Holland.

A major concern raised by gun owners is the prospect that background checks will lead to a federal registry of gun owners and their firearms, and that is something that 55% of Americans would oppose, according to the poll. And two-thirds believe that if the government did keep a list of gun owners, it would eventually use that list to take guns away from people who own them.

But other concerns about background checks are not shared by most Americans. Eight in ten see no problem with requiring anyone who sells a gun to keep a record of that transaction. And gun owners who have gone through background checks themselves say the experience was not a problem.

Roughly half of all gun owners in this country have been through a background check; only 8% of them say that the check was a negative experience, with about a third saying that it was a positive experience and most saying that they had no feelings one way or the other about the checks that they went through.

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

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. T

    .................SMART background and mental health checks are simply the correct course to follow. WHO wants CRAZY PEOPLE to have access to Bushmasters?.......

    April 10, 2013 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  2. Jack Rivera

    As long as background checks are not recorded with a particular weapon as sold (thereby causing a register record), I can go along with it. Do the check if it is clear then don't record it, if not, report the infraction, if any, to authorities for prosecution.

    April 10, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  3. bassman

    Our media use to criticize Pres. Bush for the way he walked. This is the same media that blamed Pres. Bush for wild fires during his Presidency. How things have changed. Our media is nothing more than Pres.Obama's cheerleaders. Our media is to Barrack Obama what what Pravda was to Mikhail Gorbachev

    April 10, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  4. Ginger

    What part of well'-regulated do people not get? Our cars are registered, why not our guns?

    April 10, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. Marie MD

    Me worry? If you are not a criminal or are mentally unbalanced or are a rethug then you shouldn't worry about what will be uncovered.
    If you can't pass a background check to buy a killing machine then don't have one.

    April 10, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  6. Joe

    The people who collect weapons of massive destruction are paranoid that the government is going to want to take their guns away?


    April 10, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  7. Tony in Maine

    The news now is Manchin and Twomey are working on a watered down version of the background check bill. My only question is, will Wayne LaPierre give his permission for the SEnate to pass that bill?

    We really need to stop deluding ourselves that Congress represents the people and accept that Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of business be it the il industry, pharmaceuticals, or those merchants of death – the firearms manufacturers.

    April 10, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  8. yukonj

    how can you base a whole country on 1000 intervews? sory cnn but you have billions of people to ask. that how gov gets its ideas from, not all americans but a couple thousand. not fair

    April 10, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  9. Name lynn

    Back ground check is what the people ask for, how much of the people business they want to clear your name for a gun. All this nonscence is call for all in the people business. its ok to get a back ground check whats the cost of the people lifes to do this.

    April 10, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  10. yukonj

    cnn doesnt post what people say n how they feel about the government they just edit it out thanks cnn apparently your surveys are the same you only call the ones you want. currupt

    April 10, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  11. anti gov

    Where do you and your globalist gov think that 9 out of 10 people want a ban oon any weapon or background checks, everyone that I know said the gob and the dictator president need to but out of lives of americans, people here had purchased 46000 guns in my city last month all semi auto, all the 12 and 20 gauge are still on the shelves, why don't you tel the american ppl to have a hand signed vote where ppl sign a document stating that they want the same as the dictator and the word gov that obama has created o I forgot bush and clinton just obama is pushmg tier global agenda, I feel sorry for the parents who lost their kids but I don't fel sorry for them that have travled with the dictator to try to push global agenda!!! Back off before another 1776 starts again!!!

    April 10, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  12. Senior

    I think guns should be registered and licensed like cars..

    April 10, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |