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Poll Finds Broad Support for Tougher Gun Laws
Date:1/28/2013

heir support for proposals to strengthen U.S. gun laws, but the majority of NRA members are also in favor of many of these policies."

The survey revealed that 74 percent of NRA members support requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, 64 percent support prohibiting people who have been convicted of two or more crimes involving alcohol or drugs within a three-year period from having a gun, and 70 percent want a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a person convicted of knowingly selling a gun to someone who is not legally allowed to own one.

"These data indicate that the majority of Americans are in favor of policy changes that would ultimately increase safety," study co-author Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said in the news release. "This consensus should propel forward comprehensive legislation aimed at saving lives."

The researchers also conducted another national survey of more than 1,500 people to assess attitudes about mental illness, and found ambivalent attitudes. Sixty-one percent of respondents favored greater spending on mental-health screening and treatment as a way to reduce gun violence, and 58 percent said discrimination against people with serious mental illness was a major problem.

Half the respondents, however, thought people with serious mental illness are more dangerous than others, and two-thirds said they would be unwilling to have a person with a serious mental illness as a neighbor.

"In light of our findings about Americans' attitudes toward persons with mental illness, it is worth thinking carefully about how to implement effective gun-violence-prevention measures without exacerbating stigma or discouraging people from seeking treatment," Barry said.

The findings from both surveys were published online Jan. 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gun violence claims 31,000 lives in the United States each year,
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