FILE – In a Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 file photo, gun owners discuss a potential sale of an AR-15, during the 2013 Rocky Mountain Gun Show at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of last month’s deadly school shooting in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games and movies and on TV, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. A lopsided 84 percent of adults would like to see the establishment of a federal standard for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, the poll showed. President Barack Obama was set Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 to unveil a wide-ranging package of steps for reducing gun violence expected to include a proposed ban on assault weapons, limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines and universal background checks for gun sales.(AP Photo/The Deseret News, Ben Brewer, File) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; SALT LAKE TRIBINE OUT; PROVO DAILY HERALD OUT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans were angrier about last month’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut than they were about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
And more favor stricter gun laws now than did shortly after the shooting deaths of 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in April 2007.
Three-quarters of Americans said they reacted to the Connecticut massacre of with deep anger, higher than the 65 percent who said they felt that way in a poll from NORC at the University of Chicago after the 9/11 attacks. A majority, 54 percent, said they felt deeply ashamed that an event like Newtown could happen in the United States, well above the 40 percent who said they felt that way in the wake of the disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina and 35 percent who felt that way after the shootings at Virginia Tech.
The massacre prompted 3 in 10 to give serious thought to whether they could really be safe anywhere these days and 4 in 10 felt strongly that the deaths could have been prevented. Both figures are higher now than after the Virginia Tech shooting deaths.
About a third said that after Newtown, they felt there may be too many guns in this country. A similar share said they worried how the shooting would impact U.S. gun laws.
President Barack Obama unveiled Wednesday a wide-ranging package of steps for reducing gun violence, including proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as universal background checks for gun sales.
Many of the more restrictive proposals under consideration, such as the assault-weapons ban, would face stiff congressional opposition, particularly among Republicans.
By contrast, the general public appears receptive to stronger federal action following the Dec. 14 shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.
Some 58 percent favor strengthening gun laws in the United States. Just 5 percent felt such laws should be loosened, while 35 percent said they should be left unchanged.
In comparison, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 47 percent wanted stricter gun laws, 38 percent thought they should remain as is and 11 percent wanted to see them loosened.
Caroline Konczey, 63, a retired Navy officer from Indio, Calif., is among those supporting a ban on military-style assault weapons. “I can’t imagine why anyone would want one,” she said. “What do you do with that, unless you’re a collector?”
She suggested an underlying source of gun violence was the breakdown of the nuclear family and a lack of access to mental health care. “Until you strengthen the structure of the family that teaches respect for people, then this stuff goes down,” she said.
Specifically, majorities in the new poll favored a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire guns (55 percent) and limits on the amount and type of gun violence that can be portrayed in video games, movies or on television (54 percent). About half (51 percent) of those surveyed back a ban on the sale of magazines holding 10 or more bullets.
A lopsided 84 percent of adults would like to see the establishment of a federal standard for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, the poll found.
At the same time 51 percent said that they believed laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the public’s Second Amendment right to possess and carry firearms. Among Republicans, 75 percent cited such infringement.
Most Democrats (76 percent) and independents (60 percent) back stricter gun laws, while a majority of Republicans (53 percent) want gun laws left alone.
There is also a gender gap. Gun control is a more important issue for women, with 68 percent saying it was very or extremely important to them, than for men (57 percent). And women are more likely to back stricter gun laws: 67 percent favor them, compared with 49 percent of men.
“Military-style weapons should be military guns, not John Q. Public guns,” said Ellen Huffman, 55, of Huntersville, N.C., who supports a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Huffman said early detection of mental health problems would go a long way to curbing gun violence. If such problems are caught early enough “you won’t have people killing people,” she said.
Among gun owners, just 40 percent back a ban on the sale of military-type, rapid-fire guns, and 37 percent favor a ban on high-capacity magazines, while 66 percent of non-gun owners would ban military-style weapons and 60 percent would ban high-capacity magazines.
However, 80 percent of gun owners do support federal standards for gun-show background checks, as do 87 percent of non-gun owners.
Gun owners lean more Republican than the overall public. Fifty-five percent of them are Republicans, compared with 30 percent who are Democrats.
Max Lude, 70, a retired teacher from West Frankfort, Ill., said limiting magazines to 10 rounds “is probably the smartest thing they can do” to reduce mass tragedies. Mandatory background checks also would help, as would mandatory prison sentences for those convicted of gun grimes, said Lude, a National Rifle Association member and hunter-safety instructor.
“It’s a complicated problem with a complicated solution,” he said. “It’s not just a one-time, quick-fix deal.”
The gun control debate heated up after Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into the Newtown school on Dec. 14 and killed 26 people before committing suicide. Lanza also killed his mother at her home before the shooting spree. His mother kept guns at the home she shared with her son.
The poll of 1,004 adults was conducted by telephone Jan. 10-14, 2013. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
« EPA changed course after gas company protested LAS VEGAS (AP) — NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to swap out the cumbersome “metal cans” that now serve as astronauts’ homes in space for inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap. A $17.8 million test project will send an inflatable room that can be compressed for delivery into a 7-foot tube to the International Space Station, officials said Wednesday during a news conference at North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace. If the module proves durable during two years at the space station, it could open the door to habitats on the moon and missions to Mars, NASA engineer Glen Miller said. The agency chose Bigelow for the contract because it was the only company working on the inflatable technology, said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. Founder and president Robert Bigelow, who made his fortune in the hotel industry before getting into the space business in 1999, framed the gambit as an out-of-this-world real estate venture. He hopes to sell his spare tire habitats to scientific companies and wealthy adventurers looking for space hotels. NASA is expected to install the 13-foot, blimp-like module in a space station port by 2015. Bigelow plans to begin selling stand-alone space homes the next year. The new technology provides three times as much room as the existing aluminum models, and is also easier and cheaper to build, Miller said. Artist renderings of the module resemble a tinfoil clown nose grafted onto the main station. It is hardly big enough to be called a room. Miller described it as a large closet with padded white walls and gear and gizmos strung from two central beams. Garver said on Wednesday that sending a small inflatable tube into space will be dramatically cheaper than launching a full-sized module. “Let’s face it; the most expensive aspect of taking things in space is the launch,” she said. “So the magnitude of important of this for NASA really can’t be overstated.” The partnership is another step toward outsourcing for NASA, which no longer enjoys the budget and public profile of its heyday. The agency has handed off rocket-building to private companies, retired it space shuttles in 2011 and now relies on Russian spaceships to transport American astronauts to and from the space station. Astronauts will test the ability of the bladder, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, to withstand heat, radiation, debris and other assaults. Some adventurous scientists might also try sleeping in the spare room, which is the first piece of private real estate to be blasted into space, Garver said. Bigelow said the NASA brand will enable him to begin selling Kevlar habitats several times the size of the test module. “This year is probably going to be our kickoff year for talking to customers,” he said. “We have to show that we can execute what we’re talking about.” Bigelow, who launched a small prototype of the module in 2006 after licensing the patent from NASA, will rely on Boeing and Southern California rocket developer Space Exploration Technologies to provide transportation. A 60-day stay will cost $25 million, slightly less than a roundtrip ticket into low-earth orbit. He predicted that the primary customers will be upwardly mobile countries including Brazil, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates that “have a difficult time getting their astronauts into orbit” and could use a private space station to barter and build up prestige. The biggest technological challenge will be transporting the collapsed module through the sub-zero temperatures of space without tearing or cracking any part of it, Miller said. When it arrives at the space station in 2015, scientists will blow it up and let it sit for a few days to test for leaks. If it does not hold as promised, NASA will take back a portion of the already bargain basement price it paid Bigelow. Standing beside scale models of inflatable colonies on Mars and the moon, Miller said the project will encourage commercial ventures to follow the path NASA blazes into space. He added that it could also help achieve the holy grail of space exploration: missions that send astronauts out of orbit for more than a year. “The only way to do that is to expand it out and voila you have living space for three people to go to Mars,” he said. “You can get three times the volume of a metallic can, and you can go up in the same ferry.” »