Support for Gun Control Surges to Highest Level Ever as GOP Lawmakers Sit on Their Hands

More and more people say they want stricter gun laws in the United States even as Republican lawmakers insist on preserving the status quo.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that 66 percent of people say they want stricter gun laws, while only 31 percent say they don't. This is the highest level of support the poll has ever found on this question, but even these numbers understate the true extent of public support.

Ninety-seven percent say they want universal background checks for gun purchases, the poll found. This is a staggeringly high number; it's nearly impossible to get this amount of agreement on any issue.

The poll also shows that most of the 31 percent of people who say they don't want stricter gun control are, frankly, confused. We don't have a system of universal background checks right now in the United States, so saying we should implement this measure means one supports stricter gun laws.

An assault weapons ban is approved of by 67 percent of the population. Another 83 percent back a mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases, and 75 percent say Congress must do more to reduce gun violence.

As the outcry for gun legislation continues in the wake of the Parkland shooting, these findings should help buoy activists. 

"If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again. Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump ordered the Justice Department to craft regulations banning bump stocks. These devices essentially turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons, and played a key part in making the Las Vegas shooting so deadly.

It's not clear, however, that the department has the authority to regulate bump stocks, and it may require Congress to act. Advocates are already calling Trump's embrace of a bump stock ban insufficient.

The American people support further, more wide-reaching action to address the devastating problem of gun violence in the country. That support only seems to be growing. If lawmakers can't respond to this decisive call for change, what business do they have crafting the nation's laws?

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