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Contra Costa Times - Mike Thompson: Poll Says Vets Want Gun Control

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Location: Washington, DC

By Josh Richman

A vast majority of veterans believe that it's important for Congress and President Obama to address gun violence, and that responsible gun owners' Second Amendment rights can be protected while making it harder for criminals and other dangerous people to own guns, according to a new poll.

A tremendous 91 percent of veterans support requiring a background check of everyone who wants to buy a firearm, the poll found, and 99 percent support increasing criminal penalties for people convicted of trafficking guns to criminals.

Rep. Mike Thompson, the chairman of House Democrats' gun violence task force, released the survey's results Thursday at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

"As today's study shows, America's heroes who have carried guns in defense of our nation overwhelmingly agree that it's time for Congress to act to reduce gun violence; I'm one of them," Thompson, D-Napa, said in a news release. "As a Vietnam veteran, hunter, and gun owner, I know that we can keep guns from criminals and the dangerously mentally ill, and respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. The best way to do this is by expanding background checks. Background checks are the first line of defense against guns getting in the hands of those we all agree shouldn't have them."

The poll of 804 registered voters who are military veterans was conducted online from April 2 through 4 by Global Strategy Group on behalf of Center for American Progress Action Fund and VoteVets, both liberal groups; it has a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

The poll found that 85 percent of veterans say it's important for national leaders to address gun violence, and the same number agree constitutional rights can be protected while measures are taken to keep guns away from criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. It also found that veterans' opinions of the National Rifle Association are split, with 43 percent feeling favorably toward the gun-lobbying organization and 36 percent feeling unfavorably toward it.

Also, 61 percent of veterans support banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, and 58 percent support banning assault-style weapons.

The poll also surveyed how a lawmaker's support of background checks would affect veterans' votes. Only 12 percent of veterans said such support would make them less likely to vote for the lawmaker; 58 percent say it would make them more likely to vote for the lawmaker; and 29 percent said the issue isn't important enough to them to affect their vote.

But the poll also found 31 percent of veteran voters say the NRA's endorsement would make them less likely to vote for that lawmaker, while 30 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for that lawmaker.

Thompson also Thursday praised the U.S. Senate for voting to allow debate on a gun-control bill.

"Today Senate Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly to reject the shameful filibuster that attempted to deny Americans a vote on legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence," he said. "The bipartisan background check legislation that I will introduce and will be voted on in the Senate is enforceable, will save lives, and respects the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans. It's time for Congress to act. The American people are getting a vote in the Senate. They deserve one in the House."


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