Majorities Back Ban on Assault Weapons, High-Capacity Ammo Clips

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A magazine with newly manufactured 5.56mm cartridges.

As President Barack Obama today called for legislation to restrict assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, a new poll shows more than six in 10 Americans backing such a move.

In the CNN/ORC International survey, 62 percent supported limits on both the weapons and the clips, with 37 percent in opposition.

Congressional Democrats — as well as a few Republicans who have long opposed restrictions on gun ownership — have said new limits must be put on the table following last week’s massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The dialogue, they say, also should include a look at the possible impact of violent video games and the U.S. mental health system.

Mass shootings during the last two years have had two things in common, said Representative Ron Barber, an Arizona Democrat. “The shooter used high-capacity magazines and/or assault weapons to kill his victims, and the second is, almost every one of those individuals was either later, or previously diagnosed with a serious mental illness that had been untreated,” he said.

Barber was an aide to Representative Gabrielle Giffords when both were wounded — along with 11 others — in January 2011 by a gunman while the congresswoman was meeting with constituients in Tucson. Six people were killed. Barber won a special election to succeed Giffords in June, and this November won a full term.

Most congressional Republicans have said they are willing to discuss societal violence and mental health issues, rather than focus on expanded gun control.

“Gun laws didn’t prevent this lunatic from getting guns,” said Representative Trent Franks of Arizona, referring to the killer in the elementary school shootings, Adam Lanza.

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