Feelings of disappointment and anger overwhelm those of relief or excitement over the Senate's rejection of background check legislation earlier this week, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. That result comes as no surprise, given that the vast majority of Americans continue to favor expanding background checks for those seeking to purchase a firearm.
Asked to choose the word that best described their feelings about the Senate's rejection Wednesday of an amendment to expand background checks, 32 percent of respondents said they were disappointed and 28 percent said they were angry, compared to 17 percent who described themselves as relieved and 6 percent who said they were excited. Another 18 percent said they weren't sure which word best described their feelings.
The poll found that 71 percent continue to favor requiring background checks at gun shows and for online sales, as the Senate agreement would have done, while 17 percent said they were opposed to such checks. Another recent survey on the Senate proposal, conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, found that 86 percent of respondents said they supported the expanded background checks.
An earlier HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in March found that 73 percent of Americans said they support background checks, which was also on the lower side compared to other public polls on the issue.
In the new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 90 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 60 percent of Republicans said that they support background checks.
But among Republicans, the words chosen to best describe their feelings about the bill may provide some insight into why most Republican senators felt comfortable opposing the background check requirement. A combined 39 percent of Republicans said that they were either excited or relieved, while 38 percent said they were disappointed or angry. Twenty-three percent of Republicans said they weren't sure how they felt about the defeat of the amendment.
Both Democrats and independents were more likely to choose negative than positive words to describe their feelings, by a margin of 84 percent to 8 percent for Democrats and 53 percent to 26 percent among independents.
Although most Americans say that they support expanded background checks, the new survey indicates that the issue isn't one Americans are following closely. Only 36 percent said that they have heard a lot about the Senate's rejection of the measure, while 48 percent said they had heard a little and 16 percent said they had heard nothing at all.
And those who were following the developments most closely were slightly less likely to say that they supported expanded background checks. Of those who said they had heard a lot, 67 percent said they favored background checks, compared to 26 percent who opposed, while those who had heard only a little favored them 75 percent to 13 percent. In addition, 31 percent of those following most closely used positive words to describe their feelings about the Senate rejecting the measure, compared to only 22 percent of those who had only heard a little.
The poll was conducted April 17-18 among 1,000 adults using 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.
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1981: The Attempted Assassination Of President Ronald Reagan
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
2004: Law Banning Magazines Holding More Than Ten Rounds Of Ammunition Expires
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Rules In Favor Of Dick Heller
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
2008: Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban As Unconstitutional
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>.
Gabrielle Giffords And Trayvon Martin Shootings
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">proved fruitless</a>, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/trayvon-martin" target="_hplink">gunned down</a> by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">quick to concede</a> that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">here</a>:
Colorado Movie Theater Shooting
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html" target="_hplink">opened fire on theatergoers</a> attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/batman-shooting_n_1690547.html" target="_hplink">hesitant to say</a> that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.
Sikh Temple Shooting
On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire on a Sikhs gathered at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding four more before turning the gun on himself.