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Gun Control 2013: President Obama’s "90% Support" Claim is Both True And False

When the Senate failed to end debate on an amendment to a gun control bill that would have expanded the use of background checks, President Obama claimed the vote went against what 90% of Americans support.  

Opponents of gun control are calling this a lie. If it is depends on how the statement is interpreted. Applied to support for overall gun control, the president’s statement is not correct. However, based on the actual statement, the president was telling the truth.  

The Gabby Giffords shooting, Aurora, Newtown, and other less publicized shootings have brought the debate of gun violence and how to reduce it to the forefront of political discussion.

With that, polls are continually attempting to measure public support. Here are just a few.

National Post / ABC, April 11 – 14, 2013

Do you think (new gun control laws always interfere with the right to own guns), or do you think (it's possible to make new gun control laws without interfering with gun rights)? – 38% always interfere, 55% new laws possible

Which do you think should be a higher priority right now - (enacting new laws to try to reduce gun violence), or (protecting the right to own guns)? – 52% new laws, 40% protect gun rights

Would you support or oppose a law requiring a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons? – 56% support, 42% oppose

Would you support or oppose a law requiring a nationwide ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, meaning those containing more than 10 bullets? – 56% support, 41% oppose

Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online? – 86% support, 13% oppose

Fox News, March 17 – 19, 2013

Turning now to gun control: Which one of the following do you think is most likely to reduce gun violence? Stricter gun control laws for everyone. Better mental health services. Better parenting. – 26% stricter laws, 24% better mental health, 37% better parenting

Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals to reduce gun violence?

Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales – 85% favor, 13% oppose

Banning high-capacity ammunition clips that can shoot dozens of bullets without stopping to reload – 54% favor, 43% oppose

Banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons – 51% favor, 47% oppose

Pew Research, February, 2013

Control gun ownership or protect rights of Americans to own guns – 50% gun control, 46% gun owner rights

Background checks for private and gun show sales – 83% favor, 15% oppose

Ban assault-style weapons – 56% favor, 41% oppose

Ban high-capacity ammunition clips – 53% favor, 44% oppose

CBS News Poll, March 20 – 24, 2013

In general, do you think gun control laws should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?– 47% more strict, 11% less strict, 39% kept the way they are

Do you favor or oppose a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons -- including some rifles, pistols, and shotguns -- that have detachable magazines, allowing them to rapidly fire a high number of rounds? – 49% favor, 49% oppose

Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers? – 90% favor, 8% oppose

CNN / ORC International, April 5 - 7, 2013

Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws? – 53% favor, 45% oppose

Please tell me whether you would favor or oppose a background check for a prospective gun buyer under each of the following circumstances

If the buyer is trying to purchase a gun from a gun store or other business that sells guns – 89% favor, 11% oppose

If the buyer is trying to purchase a gun at a gun show – 83% favor, 17% oppose

If the buyer is trying to purchase a gun from another person who is not a gun dealer but owns one or more guns and wants to sell one of them – 70% favor, 29% oppose

If the buyer is purchasing a gun from a family member or receiving it as a gift – 54% favor, 45% oppose

Please tell me whether you would generally favor or oppose each of the following proposals which some people have made to reduce the amount of gun violence.

A ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of so-called assault rifles, capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15 – 51% favor, 48% oppose

A ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before they need to be reloaded – 53% favor, 46% oppose

There are many other polls. The results are basically similar to those highlighted. Is there 90% support for gun control; banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines? No. Was it fair for the president to round up the poll results supporting some form of increased background check to 90%? Yes.

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