Poll: 9 in 10 back universal checks, but nearly half say they would lead confiscation

More than 9 in 10 Americans (91 percent) support the idea of universal background checks for purchasing firearms, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. But nearly half of those polled also said they thought the establishment of such checks would result in the government confiscating guns that had been purchased through legal channels.

Just 38 percent of those polled said background checks wouldn't lead to such confiscations, compared to 48 percent who said they would.

The National Rifle Association has argued for months that additional gun control measures would lead to confiscation of Americans' guns -- or would at least be the first step in that process. The poll suggests that message has resonated, even as an overwhelming number of Americans continue to support background checks.

Six in 10 Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 53 percent of gun owners said  background checks would lead to confiscations.

In other key findings from the poll:

* Americans now support gay marriage by a 50-41 margin. They prefer that the federal government define marriage, rather than each individual state, by a margin of 56 percent to 36 percent.

* 59 percent of Americans favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, 11 percent say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United States, but not allowed to become citizens; 25 percent say they should not be allowed to stay.

Seventy percent of Americans oppose New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (I) ban on sodas over 16 ounces, compared to 28 percent who do not. But by a margin of 59 percent to 39 percent, they like Bloomberg's idea of not displaying cigarettes in stores, an effort to cut down on youth smoking.

* People still oppose Obamacare, with 41 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving. Fifteen percent say the federal health-care law will help them, while 37 percent say it will hurt them. The Medicaid expansion, which some Republican governors have opted out of, gets positive marks from 48 percent and negative marks from 41 percent.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | April 4, 2013