NEW YORK -- Americans have a mixed opinion on whether guns should be allowed on college campuses, but a plurality of respondents to a new poll believe banning firearms on campus would make universities safer.

A HuffPost/YouGov survey shows Americans are split evenly at 43 percent for and against when asked whether people with proper permits should be allowed to carry concealed guns on college campuses. The other 14 percent said they were unsure.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting in December, a renewed debate over gun control laws has caused hundreds of college presidents to speak out, calling for President Barack Obama and Congress to take swift action. The slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the second-deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, behind the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University, where 32 people were killed and 17 others were injured.

In one open letter, which has more than 300 signatures from public and private college presidents, they specifically voiced opposition to state laws that allow guns on campus. Many state universities, through the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, are also on record opposing guns on campus. But while university chiefs are united, the HuffPost/YouGov poll found the general public to be divided.

The division in opinion was consistent throughout all ages, but women and self-identified Democrats were more likely to oppose allowing guns on campus. Just 33 percent of women favor allowing guns on campus, compared to 54 percent of men.

While Americans are split on whether citizens with permits should be allowed to carry firearms at colleges, only a third think more guns on campus would improve safety.

Forty-five percent said banning guns was more likely to keep a campus safer, with 33 percent saying they'd be safer if more students and faculty were packing heat. Again, Democrats and women were more likely to say banning guns is the better idea. In this question, self-identified independents said more students and faculty carrying guns would make a campus safer (39 percent), with fewer (33 percent) favoring campus gun bans.

A handful of states currently allow guns on campus, and many more leave it to campus discretion, which almost always results in a campus gun ban.

When survey respondents to the HuffPost/YouGov poll were asked if private colleges should be allowed to ban guns on their own campuses in states where it would otherwise be legal, a clear majority (63 percent) said yes, they should be able to ban them, with only 22 percent opposed.

In the past few years, 23 bills have been proposed by state lawmakers to allow firearms on campus, barring university officials from deciding for their own campus. Most were either defeated or died without a full vote. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) vetoed a bill shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting that would've allowed concealed guns in schools. Snyder cited his own experience, in which two students were killed during a campus shooting in 1981, when he was a resident adviser while in law school at the University of Michigan.

More legislation is on the horizon from both sides: Two Democrats in Colorado currently have a bill that would restrict guns on campus, while an Indiana Republican wants to allow students conceal carry rights on campus.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Jan. 3-4 among 1,000 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, though that inherent variation does not take into account other potential sources of error, including statistical bias in the sample. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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  • December 14, 2012 -- Newtown, Conn. -- 27 dead (including gunman)

    The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, leaving 27 dead -- including 20 young children. President Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/obama-newtown-school-shooting_n_2301823.html">gave an emotional address</a>, calling for "meaningful action": <blockquote>As a country we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. We're going to have to come together to meaningful action on this, regardless of the politics.</blockquote>

  • September 27, 2012 -- Minneapolis, Minn. -- 7 dead (including gunman), 2 injured

    Andrew John Engeldinger, a recently laid off employee of Accent Signage Systems, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/eric-rivers-dies-accent-signage-systems-shooting_n_1960914.html">entered the office building and opened fire</a>. (No public comments from the president.)

  • August 5, 2012 -- Oak Creek, Wis. -- 7 dead (including gunman), 4 injured

    White supremacist Wade Michael Page entered a Sikh Temple, opening fire on congregants. He later shot and injured a police officer responding to the scene. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/05/obama-wisconsin-shooting-_n_1744692.html">Presidential reaction</a>: <blockquote>Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. <br>My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.</blockquote>

  • July 20, 2012 -- Aurora, Colo. -- 12 dead, 59 injured

    During a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," a gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html">opened fire on the suburban Denver movie theater</a>, killing 12 and injuring dozens of others. Two days later, Obama <a href="http://www.kunc.org/post/transcript-video-president-obamas-speech-after-aurora-hospital-visit">delivered a ten-minute speech</a> from the University of Colorado that made no mention of gun control: <blockquote>God bless all who helped to respond to this tragedy. And I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth.</blockquote>

  • May 31, 2012 -- Seattle, Wash. -- 6 dead (including gunman)

    A man opened fire in a cafe, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/seattle-shootings-2012_n_1561944.html">fatally wounding four people</a>, then killed another in a carjacking before killing himself. (No public comments from the president.)

  • April 2, 2012 -- Oakland, Calif. -- 7 dead

    A former student of Oikos University, a Korean college, entered a building on the campus and shot repeatedly at random targets. (No public comments from the president)

  • February 22, 2012 -- Norcross, Ga. -- 5 dead (including gunman)

    A man <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203960804577238850391163984.html">shot and killed two of his sisters and their husbands and then himself</a> in a Korean health spa. (No public comments from the president.)

  • October 12, 2011 -- Seal Beach, Calif. -- 8 dead, 1 injured

    Scott Evans Dekraai, 41, stormed a hair salon where his ex-wife worked and <a href="http://www.ocregister.com/articles/business-321651-medical-beach.html?videos">killed eight people</a>. (No public comments from the president.)

  • January 8, 2011 -- Tucson, Ariz. -- 6 dead, 14 injured

    Jared Lee Loughner, 22, opened fire in a Safeway parking lot, killing six people and injuring others including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/gabrielle-giffords-shot-c_n_806211.html">shot in the head at point-blank range</a>. Two months later, Obama addressed gun control issues <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/13/obama-gun-control-arizona-shooting_n_835103.html">in an op-ed for the <em>Arizona Daily Star</em></a>: <blockquote>I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country. However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.</blockquote>

  • August 3, 2010 -- Manchester, Conn. -- 9 dead (including gunman), 2 injured

    A driver for Hartford Distributors <a href="http://articles.courant.com/2010-08-03/news/hc-omar-thornton-workplace-shooting-020100803_1_workplace-shooting-east-hartford-shooting-victims">killed eight people and then himself </a>in this workplace shooting. (No public comments from the president.)

  • November 29, 2009 -- Parkland, Wash. -- 5 dead (including gunman)

    A Washington man walked into a coffee shop and <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2010382767_webfourdead29m.html">shot four police officers execution-style</a>. (No public comments from the president.)

  • November 5, 2009 -- Fort Hood, Texas -- 13 dead, 30 injured (including gunman)

    In the deadliest shooting to ever happen on an American military base, an Army Major <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/fort-hood-shooting-fbi-nidal-hasan-political-correctness_n_1685653.html">serving as a psychiatrist went on a shooting spree</a> that killed 13. Obama <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/11/06/obamas-response-fort-hood-shooting-scrutiny/#ixzz2F3yWYFVg">said at a press conference</a>: <blockquote>This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and women. We don't know all of the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all of the facts.</blockquote>

  • April 3, 2009 -- Binghamton, N.Y. -- 14 dead (including gunman), 4 injured

    Jiverly Wong, a naturalized immigrant from Vietnam,<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/nyregion/05suspect.html"> gunned down students and employees at the American Civic Association</a>, where he had been taking English lessons. President Obama said in a statement: <blockquote>Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, N.Y. today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton. We don't yet know all the facts, but my administration is actively monitoring the situation, and the vice president is in touch with Governor Paterson and local officials to track developments.</blockquote>

  • March 10, 2009 -- Geneva County, Ala. -- 11 dead (including gunman), 6 injured

    A 28-year-old man <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/us/12alabama.html?hp&_r=0">killed his mother then drove ten miles to kill several members of his extended family, neighbors and a bystander</a>. The victims ranged in age from 18 months to 74 years old. (No public comments from the president.)

  • March 29, 2009 -- Carthage, N.C. -- 8 dead, 3 injured (including gunman)

    A gunman <a href="http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/4837676/">opened fire on a nursing home</a>, killing seven residents and a nurse. (No public comments from the president.)

  • June 25, 2008 -- Henderson, Ky. -- 6 dead (including gunman), 1 injured

    After an argument with his boss at the Atlantis plastics plant, Wesley N. Higdon, 25, <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25361852/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/dead-argument-boss-ends-rampage/#.UMuJ53Pjlps">killed five colleagues</a> and then himself. (No public comments from the president.)

  • February 14, 2008 -- DeKalb, Ill. -- 6 dead (including gunman, 21 injured)

    A former Northern Illinois University student, 27-year-old Steven Phillip Kazmierczak, opened fire on the campus, killing five people then himself. George W. Bush <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/02/15/us-usa-shooting-school-idUSKRA48086720080215">spoke with school president John Peters </a>and told him "that a lot of folks today will be praying for the families of the victims and for the Northern Illinois University community. Obviously a tragic situation on that campus and I ask our citizens to offer their blessings, blessings of comfort and blessing of strength." Then an Illinois senator and presidential candidate, Barack Obama <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/02/15/us-usa-shooting-school-idUSKRA48086720080215">said in a statement </a>that "we must also offer ... our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets and our schools; from our neighborhoods and our cities."

  • February 7, 2008 -- Kirkwood, Mo. -- 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured

    A gunman <a href="http://www.ksdk.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=139898">opened fire on a public meeting in the city hall,</a> killing six people before he was shot and killed by police. (No public comments from the president.)

  • December 5, 2007 -- Omaha, Neb. -- 9 dead (including gunman)

    Robert A. Hawkins, 19, went on a shooting spree at the Westroads Mall, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/05/AR2007120501868.html">killing eight people</a> and then himself. George W. Bush had been visiting Omaha for a fundraiser but left the city just an hour before the shooting took place. "Having just visited with so many members of the community in Omaha today, the president is confident that they will pull together to comfort one another as they deal with this terrible tragedy," the White House <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/05/AR2007120501868.html">said in a statement.</a>

  • October 7, 2007 -- Crandon, Wis. -- 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured

    Tyler Peterson, 20, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/09/wisconsin.shooting/index.html" target="_hplink">killed six people</a>, including his ex-girlfriend, at a post-homecoming party. (No public comments from the president.)

  • April 16, 2007 -- Virginia Tech campus, Blacksburg, Va. -- 33 dead (including gunman), 23 injured

    Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at the school, shot and killed 32 of his classmates before committing suicide. George W. Bush addressed the nation: <blockquote>I've spoken with Governor Tim Kaine and Virginia Tech President Charles Steger. I told them that Laura and I and many across our nation are praying for the victims and their families and all the members of the university community who have been devastated by this terrible tragedy. I told them that my administration would do everything possible to assist with the investigation, and that I pledged that we would stand ready to help local law enforcement and the local community in any way we can during this time of sorrow.</blockquote>