DENVER
09/17/2012 10:12 am ET Updated Sep 17, 2012

Aurora Theater Shooting: Two Months Later, New Poll Shows Coloradans Don't Want Stricter Gun Laws

Nearly two months have passed since a gunman opened fire on unsuspecting movie-goers at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at Century 16 theater in Aurora that left 12 dead and injured more than 50. And according to a new poll by The Denver Post, a majority of Coloradans still do not favor stricter gun control laws.

Of the 615 likely voters polled, 56 percent said it was more important to them to protect gun rights to 39 percent saying gun control was more important.

Read the entire poll, exact question wording and results here at The Denver Post.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise when in the immediate wake of the Aurora mass shooting, The Denver Post reported that gun sales in Colorado spiked -- background checks for people wanting to purchase firearms in the state jumped more than 41 percent less than a week after the massacre.

Over the weekend after the shooting, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations had approved 2,887 background checks for people seeking to purchase a firearm.

The Post's findings echo sentiments observed by two similar polls by Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News and Public Policy Polling from August that showed similar majorities from Colorado voters. 50 percent of Colorado voters said that gun laws should remain the same with only 38 percent favoring stricter gun laws, in the Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS poll.

Fifty-eight percent of Colorado voters told PPP that no gun laws could have prevented the Aurora theater tragedy while only 35 percent believed gun laws could have prevented the shooting.

And if history is a guide, the shooting in Aurora is unlikely to push the voters to favoring stricter gun control laws in a lasting way. A recent report by The Huffington Post evaluated polls about gun control after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and found that although there was a bump in support for stricter gun laws immediately following the shooting, that support had eroded a year later which then gave way to a longer-term decline.

But polling results often come down to the wording of the question. The Colorado Independent spoke with PPP polling analyst Jim Williams who told the Independent, “If you ask a really broad question like ‘Do you think gun laws should be more restrictive?’ people think of the worst case scenario, where people’s hunting rifles would be taken away," Williams said. "But if you ask a more precise question, such as one dealing with assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, then they think more critically."

And that is certainly reflected in both the PPP and Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS polls. When asked about high-capacity ammunition clips and magazines, 58 percent of Colorado voters favored a national ban Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS found in August.

PPP's poll showed that 58 percent of Colorado voters were in support of a ban on assault weapons, while only 35 percent were opposed.

Nationally, it appears unlikely that gun laws will change. Although Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has renewed his push for gun safety legislation and whose bill would limit the availability of high-capacity magazines, a senior Democratic aide told The Huffington Post that the bill is unlikely to go anywhere because of the Senate's busy schedule. "Not this work period," the aide said.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called upon President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to detail their plans to tighten gun laws. "You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country," Bloomberg said in July just after the Aurora shooting had occurred.

And we just might get a question on the issue of gun control at the October presidential debates in Denver. The Brady Campaign has pressed Jim Lehrer, host of PBS NewsHour and moderator of the debates in Denver, to ask Obama and Romney about gun violence.

Anne Bell, spokeswoman for PBS NewsHour, said that although Lehrer is open to suggestions, it his him alone that makes the final call on what questions are asked. "As in years past, in the end it will be Jim, and Jim alone, who comes up with the questions for the debate," Bell said.

Take our polls below and let us know what you think about gun control in your comments:

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Pivotal Moments In The Federal Gun Control Debate

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