If Pa. voters had their say today, three of President Obama’s top gun control priorities would become law.
According to the latest poll from Quinnipiac, Pa. has near-unanimous public support for universal background checks (95% to 5%) and healthy support for a ban on assault weapons (60% to 37%) and high capacity magazine clips (59% to 39%).
Respondents who identified as gun owners also supported universal background checks (95% to 4%) but opposed an assault weapons ban (51% to 45%) and magazine restrictions (57% to 41%).
All three are measures supported by Obama, who intensified his focus on gun violence in the wake of the December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
As the number show however, universal background checks stand the strongest chance of success. A lengthy report this month by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Moriah Balingit detailed one example why: John Shick, the man who shot several people at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland in March 2012, had navigated haphazard background check laws to obtain his guns.
57% of respondents said Pa. gun control laws should be stricter, 35% said they should remain as-is, and 4% said they should be less strict. 60% favored stricted federal gun control laws (and 32% the same, 5% less strict).
Asked, “Who do you trust more to make the right decisions about gun laws, the Republicans in Congress or President Obama?” respondents chose Obama 47% to 38%.
“Pennsylvanians join voters in Virginia and New Jersey, states where Quinnipiac University has found overwhelming support for background checks for every gun purchase,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Keystone State voters, especially voters in urban areas, seem to have had enough of gun violence. By large margins, voters don’t think assault weapons belong in the hands of any gun owner. Restrict the firepower of assault weapons or ban them entirely, Pennsylvanians say.”
The survey found 49 % of respondents believe gun ownership protects people from becoming victims of crime compared to 40% who said ownership puts people at risk. But that stops with semi-automatic assault rifles like that used in Newtown. 61% of respondents said those make the country more dangerous. Just 28% said they make the country safer.
The idea of having armed guards at schools would do more to reduce gun violence in schools than stricter 46% to 42%.
By a margin of 35% to 31%, respondents said they had an unfavorable impression of the National Rifle Association.
These numbers are the second release by Quinnipiac from the same survey, conducted from Jan. 22 to 27 using live interviewers calling landlines. The margin of error for the poll of 1,221 registered voters is plus or minus 2.8%. Pa. polls that use registration numbers rather than algorithms based on likely voters tend to favor Democrats by a few points and disadvantage Republicans compared to election results.
Yesterday’s release showed Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election numbers in trouble driven by a wide gender gap.