As the National Rifle Association steels its resolve against universal background checks at gun shows, a new poll shows nearly unanimous support for them among registered voters in three states.
But the Quinnipiac University survey
respondents also backed one idea that the NRA supports: armed guards in schools.
More than 90 percent of registered voters surveyed Jan. 4-27 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia — including those in households where there is a gun — support background checks, the survey found.
In New Jersey, 96 percent of the 1,647 registered voters surveyed favored the checks, including 95 percent of those in gun households.
In Pennsylvania, the results were equal — at 95 percent — among the 1,221 surveyed by Quinnipiac on both issues.
And in Virginia, 92 percent of those surveyed supported the checks, including 91 percent of those living in households with guns.
The Quinnipiac results come as NRA President David Keene attacked the gun-show checks, saying that they would place an extremely high burden on individual gun sellers and that such methods would not deter criminals who want to buy firearms.
“While it sounds good, it doesn’t work,” Keene said Thursday in an interview at The Christian Science Monitor Breakfast in Washington.
Keene also opposed limiting magazine clips and said efforts would be better focused on protecting children, Politico reports.
He also said that the changing political climate since the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults died, would not sway the NRA from its anti-gun-control stance.
“Our opponents hope this time is different,” Keene told Politico. “[They] hope they can use emotion to achieve an anti-firearm agenda that they haven’t been able to in the past.”
He added that the NRA was prepared to work with the Obama White House on several initiatives, including increasing money to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, particularly to include the mentally ill in the database.
Since the Newtown shootings, the NRA has called for armed police in schools and has launched its National School Shield Program, headed by former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.
That idea has strong backing from those surveyed by Quinnipiac University.
Virginia voters are most supportive, at 66 to 29 percent, while those in New Jersey responded 50 to 44 percent — and the Pennsylvania voters are nearly split on the issue, 46 to 42 percent.
Despite the perception of the NRA as an advocacy group, Keene said only 12 percent of its budget is spent on such efforts — with the rest going to activities like gun safety, competitions, technical information, and working with the Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts of America, and other youth groups.
“The political influence, if you will, of the NRA is not a result of our lobbyists and our operations in Washington,” Keene said. “It’s a result of the fact over the years we have represented people from both parties, a lot of our members are Democrats and independents, they’re union members, they are factory owners, they are small business people and housewives — and the one thing they have demonstrated over time when they perceive their rights to be threatened: they will vote.”
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