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Half Of Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws, But Many Question Their Effectiveness

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Support for stricter gun laws has leveled off from its peak following 2012's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. Continued gun violence since then, including numerous mass shootings, seems to have had little impact on support for new laws.

Forty-nine percent of Americans now support making gun laws stricter. That's the same as the number who said so in a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in December, but below the peak of 60 percent reached in January 2013, a month after the Newtown school massacre. In the new poll, 24 percent said they thought gun laws didn't need to be changed, and 20 percent said they should be made even looser than they already are.

Support for universal background checks for gun buyers, including those purchasing weapons at gun shows and from private sellers, remains high, with 79 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed. Universal background checks are far less divisive than gun control generally. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents said they would favor new background check requirements.

Americans were far more divided on whether to support a ban on high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons. Overall, 43 percent said they would favor a ban and 39 percent said they would oppose it. Sixty-two percent of Democrats were in favor, but only 37 percent of independents and 29 percent of Republicans agreed.

Violence involving weapons other than guns, like the stabbing rampage at a Pennsylvania school that left 22 people injured last week, makes Americans skeptical that stricter gun laws will help prevent killings, the new survey shows.

Only 30 percent agree that restricting access to guns would make killings less frequent because it is harder to kill a person with another weapon. But 55 percent said they think restrictions on guns wouldn't prevent killings because killers will just choose other weapons.

Eighty percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats said they did not think restricting access to guns would prevent killings.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted April 9 to April 11 among 1,000 U.S. 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.

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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