Recent photo of wildfires in Amazon rain forest.

Washington — A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found a majority of voters believe climate change is an emergency and even larger majority say Congress needs to act to reduce gun violence.

A majority of registered voters nationwide, 56%, say that climate change is an emergency, while 42% do not.

Voters also told pollsters the United States isn’t doing enough to address climate change, with 67% of voters saying more needs to be done. That’s a new high since the question was first asked by Quinnipiac pollsters in December of 2015.

“As fires in the Amazon rain forest serve as just the latest concern about the planet, there is a sense of urgency about climate change among American voters,said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll.

The poll was released as President Donald Trump on Thursday announced plans to roll back regulations on the emission of methane, a major contributor to climate change.

The poll also showed attitudes towards gun control are shifting as mass shootings in the United States continue to claim lives.

Seventy two percent of those polled, including 50% of Republicans, 93% of Democrats, and 75% of independents, said Congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence.

But support for individual gun proposals gun vary.

There’s overwhelming support for “universal” FBI background checks of gun buyers, 93 to 6%.

There is also strong support, 82%, to require a license to purchase a gun and for a federal  “red flag” law like the one in Connecticut that allows the temporary confiscation of weapons from those determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

A majority, 60%, of those polled backed the reinstatement of a federal ban on semi-automatic “assault” style weapons, a ban that expired in 2004.

But there is not majority support for a mandatory federal program to buy back of assault weapons purchased before a new ban takes effect. Forty-nine percent of those polled opposed such a program.

While the Quinnipiac poll determined that a majority of American voters disagree with  the National Rifle Association’s opposition to an expansion of background checks, red flag laws and assault weapons bans, the poll showed that the NRA’s argument that mental illness, not the prevalence of guns, is responsible for mass shootings has some resonance.

A majority, 54%, of voters polled said mental illness is a bigger cause of mass shootings than the availability of guns, while 37% say gun availability is a bigger cause. But 54% of voters told pollsters that stricter gun laws would help to decrease the number of mass shootings in the United States, while 43% didn’t think so.

The debate over guns is expected to resume when Congress returns from its summer break the second week of September. The Democratic-led House has approved two bills that would expand FBI background checks of prospective gun buyers, but the GOP-majority Senate has failed to act on either piece of legislation.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are returning to work a week early to try to advance an assault weapons ban and other gun-related legislation.

But like the background check bill, those fate of those bills lies with a Senate that has shown little inclination to consider gun legislation.

The Quinnipiac poll also determined 64% of voters believe the level of hatred and prejudice in the United States has increased since the 2016 election, with 28% saying it hasn’t changed, and 6% saying it has decreased.

Prejudice against immigrants is a “very serious problem” in the United States today, 51% of the respondents told the pollsters, while 23% said it is a “somewhat serious problem.”

The poll surveyed 1,422 registered voters from Aug. 21-26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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4 Comments

  1. This debate is so redundant, that it could have been written 5 years ago with the same complaints and arguments. One answer is to enforce the existing laws. Currently, there are 80 gun and gun related laws in CT alone. One of those gun related laws is update the background check database by the police. This is not being done in more than half of the police departments in CT alone. Next is the mental health of the people buying any gun. Nothing is being done on this area as it violated privacy laws. So, enhancing the background check laws would include gun shows but since the database is only as good as the inputs to the system.

  2. I agree on the database issue — our first task in combating gun violence should be better updating and cross-coordination of law enforcement databases. But I think people are misled in thinking that this is mostly a mental illness issue. Most shooters don’t exhibit symptoms of mental illness, so they can’t be prevented from buying a gun, no matter how many laws we pass. The confusion comes from the idea that you must be ill if you would shoot someone. But, in reality, this seems to be an outcome of other issues, including uncontrolled impulsivity and lack of training in dealing with anger. This is where access limitation, such as limits on access to ammo for certain categories of weapons, might possibly be helpful. I think we all need to consider a variety of ideas.

  3. GuOnly a matter of a few years when serious gun regulations will be enacted. The Republican Party as we know it today will not exist. As the millennial generation becomes more and more of the electorate, and the old folks pass away, gun laws and real health care changes will occur. Republican party is the party of the old.

  4. Real gun regs will occur soon. Millenials will be more and more of electorate soon and gun regs and healthcare will be tops on their legitimate demands. Republican Party is really just blind to how they are imploding their party. I really fail to understand how they don’t see this.

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