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Californians Back Tighter Gun Controls

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A Field Poll taken after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino found Californians support a first-of-its kind law requiring background checks for ammunition purchases while standing firm on tight gun controls overall.

The Field Poll, released Tuesday, found bipartisan support among California voters on several gun-control proposals. Eighty percent supported background checks for ammunition purchases, and 75 percent supported banning anyone on the no-fly list from buying guns.

Fifty-seven percent said it is more important to impose greater controls on gun ownership than it is to protect the right to own guns, the Field Poll said.

The poll found that 58 percent of those surveyed favor outlawing large-capacity magazines and 56 percent support adding semi-automatic rifles to the state's assault weapons ban.

The poll surveyed 1,003 California voters after the December attack in San Bernardino that killed 13 people and injured 22.

Despite already having the nation's toughest firearm regulations, Tuesday's poll shows California voters could be receptive to adopting stricter measures, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's sweeping ballot measure. Newsom is pushing a measure requiring background checks for ammunition purchases, licenses for ammunition retailers and stronger assault weapons restrictions.

The Democratic candidate for governor introduced the gun-control measure in October. If approved, California would become the first state to require background checks for ammunition purchases.

"We want to create some common-sense reforms that would protect the public," Newsom said. Supporters of his initiative have until June to gather a minimum of 365,880 signatures to place it on the November ballot.

The results of the nonpartisan poll are historically consistent with California voters on statewide ballot measures. Since 2009, the final Field Poll results have been consistent with the outcome on 90 percent of California ballot contests.

The Field Poll results come at the height of the nation's recent debate over firearm laws, with President Barack Obama coming to tears last week while introducing a set of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence. The president's order would force all gun retailers to conduct background checks, including sellers at gun shows and Internet retailers.

As expected, Obama's proposals received instant criticism from Republican lawmakers. Since Obama took office, Congress has yet to vote on legislation seeking background checks for ammunition sales and Republicans have repeatedly shot down bills requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.

But the California Field Poll revealed a surprising amount of Republican support for ammunition background checks and prohibiting people on the "no-fly" list from buying guns. Fifty-eight percent of Republican respondents supported ammunition background checks and 68 percent agreed with banning no-fly list purchases.

Location factored into the poll's results: 68 percent of respondents in Los Angeles County support greater gun controls, compared with 43 percent in the Central Valley. Half of the male respondents favored tighter gun laws, as did 63 percent of female voters.

A separate Field Poll released on Jan. 8 found that 33 percent of California voters feel another terrorist attack is likely in the near future, and just 21 percent say they are confident that law enforcement can foil terror plots.

The Field Poll said the report released Tuesday has a margin of error of 3.2 percent to 4.4 percent.

"In order to cover a broad range of issues and still minimize voter fatigue, some of the questions on this report were asked of a random subsample of 533 registered voters statewide," the Field Poll said.

Margin of error in this case means that if the poll were repeated, the results would be expected to be within the margin of error, plus or minus, of the first report. The 3.2 percent margin of error refers to the larger sample, the 4.4 percent margin of error to the smaller sample.


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