WASHINGTON, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - In the aftermath of several mass shootings, including a rampage at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead, a new poll released on Monday finds that a majority of Americans support wide ranging new policies to reduce gun violence.
“This consensus should propel forward comprehensive legislation aimed at saving lives,” said professor Jon Vernick in a press release about the study that he helped conduct with other researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study, titled “After Newtown – Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness,” was published online in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“The majority of Americans are in favor of policy changes that would ultimately increase safety,” Vernick said.
The poll found 89 percent of those questioned support universal background checks for all gun sales, and 69 percent in favor of banning the sale of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, which have been used in recent US mass shootings.
The poll also found 46 percent of gun owners in favor of banning semiautomatic assault weapons.
An assault weapons ban was introduced in the US Senate last week, but chances of it passing Congress are remote.
The survey also found that 68 percent support banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines that can hold massive amounts of bullets as well as policies that would prohibit high-risk individuals from having guns, including juveniles convicted of serious crimes.
Researchers conducted a second survey focused on mental illness and found that 61 percent support increasing government spending on mental health treatment as a strategy to reduce gun violence.
“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,” said Colleen Barry, lead study author and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
According to the Johns Hopkins researchers, gun violence in the US claims 31,000 lives each year and the “rate of firearms homicides in America is 20 times higher than it is in other economically advanced nations.”