The full poll results are available. Joe Huffman has taken a closer look into those results and has pulled out a few of the more interesting questions.
71 percent do not think tougher laws can stop shootings like the one last month in Newtown, Connecticut. Some 22 percent say new laws can prevent the next Sandy Hook.
Majorities of gun owners (81 percent), non-gun owners (58 percent), Democrats (58 percent), independents (72 percent) and Republicans (85 percent) say the people who do these kinds of things "will always find the guns" to commit violent acts.
An important part of the debate about firearms policy consists of understanding not just the specific results of a poll, but what those results mean in the context of the average person's knowledge of existing firearms law. If a person says they want stronger laws, that's meaningless unless you know what they think the current laws are.
The most popular suggestions are requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (with 91 percent favoring this proposal), providing services for mentally ill people who "show violent tendencies" (89 percent) and improving enforcement of existing laws (86 percent)
Large majorities also favor mandating mental-health checks on gun buyers (83 percent) and requiring criminal background checks on anyone buying ammunition (80 percent).
Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales?If you are buying from a dealer (the vast majority of legal gun sales), you must pass the background check. If you are buying from a private individual, they are not able to run a background check on you, but if you are a criminal, it is illegal for you to buy the gun, and illegal for them to sell it to you if they know you are a criminal. Yes, this also applies at gun shows.
Requiring mental health checks on all gun buyers: Do you favor or oppose this proposal to reduce gun violence?Mandating mental health checks on gun buyers is another case. Existing law says that if you have been involuntarily committed, you can't have a gun, and the background check system is supposed to turn up those results when the dealer runs your name through. Keeping that database updated it up to the states, which may or may not be diligent about it. (The Newtown killer was on the prohibited list, tried to buy a gun from a dealer and was denied, so he killed his mother and stole her guns; the Virginia Tech killer should have been on the list but someone dropped the ball).