State Politics

More people support universal background checks for guns than say the sky is blue

Raleigh’s March For Our Lives draws thousands

Thousands marched from City Plaza to Halifax Mall in Raleigh to speak up in the national conversation around gun violence which was sparked by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in February.
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Thousands marched from City Plaza to Halifax Mall in Raleigh to speak up in the national conversation around gun violence which was sparked by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in February.

Americans are more likely to support universal background checks for gun buyers than they are to say that the sky is blue, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh company that does both statewide and national polling and often polls on behalf of Democrats, is known for including wacky questions among the more serious topics in its polls. It's unclear how many of the people who said they don't actually think the sky is blue were joking, but Tuesday's results said 81 percent of Americans say the sky is blue and 11 percent say it's some other color.

By comparison, 87 percent of Americans think there should be universal background checks for gun sales, the poll found, while 8 percent oppose the idea and 6 percent aren't sure.

That 87 percent of people who support universal background checks include 89 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of independents.

The pollsters called people last Friday, Saturday and Sunday when much news coverage was focused on the gun rights debate and specifically the large March For Our Lives protests happening across the country. Those marches, many of them led by high school students, called for stricter gun control laws in the wake of recent school shootings.

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In that context, the poll found that 56 percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of the students leading the marches, compared to 39 percent who had a favorable opinion of the NRA.

The poll also found that 60 percent of Americans say there should be stricter gun control laws in general, compared to 40 percent who either opposed the idea or were unsure.

But when the poll offered more specific suggestions, the level of support rose.

The results showed 64 percent say assault weapons — including AR-15s — should be banned. And 87 percent want "background checks for all gun buyers."

Federal law requires background checks only for people who buy a gun from a licensed dealer, like at a gun store.

That means private sales — involving people who buy firearms at gun shows, or from friends — are not required to undergo a background check first.

Some states have stricter rules. For instance, North Carolina requires background checks on private sales of handguns, but not rifles or shotguns.

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The poll also found most Americans think it's a bad idea to arm teachers, by a 53-35 margin.

A different poll, of North Carolina teachers only, conducted last month by The News & Observer and Elon University found that nearly 4 in every 5 public school educators here oppose teachers having guns in school.

Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran
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