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POLL: 6 in 10 fear a mass shooting; most think gun laws can help

Kameleon007/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With six in 10 worried about a mass shooting in their community, Americans by a 17-point margin express confidence that stricter gun control laws would reduce such incidents, and even more endorse improved mental health monitoring and treatment to that end.

Two measures, specifically, remain overwhelmingly popular: Eighty-nine percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support background checks for all gun purchases, including private and gun show sales; and 86 percent back “red flag” laws allowing the police to take guns from individuals found by a judge to be a danger.

See PDF for full poll results, charts and tables.

By a 15-point margin, 56 to 41 percent, the public supports banning the sale of assault weapons. That’s off its recent peak, 62 percent, after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last year, but well up from its low, 45 percent in late 2015.

Beyond banning assault weapons sales, 52 percent support a mandatory buyback program in which the government would require owners to turn in their assault weapons in exchange for payment. And six in 10 in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support banning high-capacity ammunition clips.

Gun policy may be debated again as Congress returns to session this week, following mass shootings across the country that killed at least 35 in August. Americans trust the Democrats in Congress over President Donald Trump to handle gun laws by 51-36 percent.

Fifty-eight percent express confidence that stricter gun laws would in fact reduce mass shootings; 41 percent are skeptical. As noted, there are also especially broad hopes for improved mental health monitoring and treatment, as 76 percent think those kind of programs would reduce mass shootings.

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