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Why new gun controls are inevitable

January 15, 2013, at 9:17 AM

Despite the success of the gun lobby blocking new gun control measures over the last few decades, public opinion has reached a tipping point in favor of new curbs on guns. It comes just as President Obama is set to make a new push for gun control legislation.

A new Pew Research poll finds there are now "clear areas of agreement" on a variety of gun control proposals with 85 percent of Americans in favor of making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. In addition, 80 percent now support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns. Both measures have broad support across party lines.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll confirms these findings and also shows 58 percent of Americans support passing a new assault weapons ban.

Finally, a new National Journal poll finds the coalition that swept President Obama into a second term — young people, minorities and college-educated women — all back new gun control measures.

The consensus for new gun curbs, however, does break down in several areas. While there is overwhelming support for creating a new federal database to track gun sales, it’s favored mainly by Democrats and independents. Similar partisan divides exist on banning high capacity ammunition clips or selling ammunition online.

But the overwhelming conclusion of this new polling data is that Americans want new gun controls.

If Congress doesn’t act, the New York Times reports President Obama is prepared to take 19 separate actions by executive order.  Actions he could take on his own "are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence."

Congress never likes it when a president invokes the powers of his office to move on his own, but President Obama will have the public on his side if he chooses this course.

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