In Wake of Mass Shootings, Most Voters Support Assault Weapons Ban

Flowers adorn a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(CN) – A poll found Wednesday that a majority of Republicans support legislation banning assault weapons in the United States, a sentiment that contradicts President Donald Trump’s statements that there is no “political appetite” for such a ban.

In the wake of mass shootings this past weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, in which a combined 31 people were killed, Trump said he would support legislation requiring comprehensive background checks on all gun buyers.

The vast majority of voters, 91%, said they back universal background checks on all gun purchases, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found.

But before boarding Air Force One to visit affected communities in Ohio and Texas on Wednesday, Trump told reporters he was unlikely to back an assault weapon ban since there is little political “appetite” for such a restriction.

“Well, I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” Trump told reporters. “If you look at the – you could speak, you could do your own polling. And there’s no political appetite, probably, from the standpoint of legislature.”

Trump also told reporters he would back legislation preventing guns from falling “into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate, sick people.”

A large majority of voters – 89% – said in the poll that they would want gun sales blocked for people reported as dangerous by mental health professionals and law enforcement.

Shoes are piled outside the scene of a mass shooting including Ned Peppers bar, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. Several people in Ohio have been killed in the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than 24 hours, and the suspected shooter is also deceased, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The poll found Wednesday that among Republicans, who traditionally hold conservative views on gun restrictions, 55% said they support an assault weapons ban while 90% said they would back universal background checks for gun buyers.

Another 54% of polled GOP voters – and 73% of all voters – said they would back gun laws that were generally stricter.

Trump was greeted with protests Wednesday in the border city of El Paso, a community in deep mourning following the deadly shooting contemplated as a direct attack on Latinos.

Migrant rights advocates and lawmakers have tied Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants – including his description of mass migrations from Latin America as “invasions” – to anti-immigrant language in white supremacist manifestos upheld by the Dayton and El Paso shooting suspects.

Lawmakers including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination for president, called for an assault weapon ban following the deadly shootings over the weekend.

The poll found that 70% of all voters and 86% of Democrats would support an assault weapons ban, with only 23% of voters saying they would decline to support such a measure.

A slight majority of voters, 54%, said it is either “not very likely or not likely at all” that Congress will pass gun control legislation in the next year, while 39% said it is “very or somewhat likely,” the poll found.

Morning Consult surveyed 1,960 registered voters August 5-7, in the days immediately following the deadly mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

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