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Majority of Illinoisans back gun-control proposals: poll

Guns confiscated by Chicago Police  |  Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Guns confiscated by Chicago Police | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 11, 2013 6:41AM

A new poll shows widespread support among Illinois voters across the political spectrum for the gun-control proposals being debated in Washington and Springfield.

By a 4-1 ratio, voters said they were more likely to elect legislative candidates who backed strong gun-control measures, according to the poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

Those voters included gun owners, the poll found.

“It’s clear voters in Illinois are ready to reward candidates who support these limits — and punish candidates who don’t,” said pollster Al Quinlan, whose Washington-based firm does work for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence commissioned the poll, which surveyed 600 registered voters across Illinois and a sample of an additional 300 voters in Will and DuPage counties.

Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Illinois, scoffed at the poll’s conclusions and said the wording of some of the questions was biased.

“The anti-gun groups continually want to put constitutional rights up for referendum. That’s not how it works,” Vandermyde said.

In the past, polling showed people who opposed gun control were most likely to vote for a candidate based on that single issue, Quinlan said.

“This is a major, major change that political candidates need to be aware of,” he said.

Recently, the courts ruled that Illinois must allow people to carry concealed, loaded guns in public. The debate in Springfield is focused on whether to place limits on where people can carry guns.

Legislators are considering a host of other gun-control measures, including a ban on assault weapons; a limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines; mandatory reporting to police when guns are lost or stolen, and criminal background checks on every gun sale.

The poll, conducted between March 27 and April 2, showed a majority of voters statewide — and in Will and DuPage counties — supported each of those gun-control measures.

Republicans and Democrats were most closely aligned in their approval of criminal background checks on every gun sale, with more than 94 percent expressing support.

They were farthest apart on the issue of limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and banning assault weapons. More than 80 percent of Democrats said they supported those measures and less than 60 percent of Republicans backed them.

Still, there was majority support for every measure, Quinlan noted.

“There was a clear electoral impact here in favor of stronger gun laws that was not in place a few months ago,” he said.

The poll also asked voters what they thought was more important: “to protect the rights of Americans to own guns OR to protect people from gun violence?” A majority said their priority was stopping violence.

Although the poll focused on the Illinois gun-control debate, President Barack Obama is pushing for several of the same measures: a ban on assault weapons; a reduction of ammunition magazine capacity, and stiffer background checks. Republican leaders in Congress have vowed to block the legislation.

Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said Colorado and Connecticut have responded to the recent shooting massacres in those states by passing stronger gun laws. Pointing to the new poll, she said Illinois legislators should take bold action, too.

“The vote on a concealed-carry bill should be transformed into an opportunity to strengthen our entire system of gun laws in Illinois and to close deadly loopholes,” Daley said.

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