The findings, which also show broad bipartisan support for mandatory background checks to purchase firearms at gun shows, came as President Obama said Monday that he will lay out specific White House proposals on gun-control legislation and executive actions this week.
Obama has pledged to champion broad new reforms in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 26, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown one month ago. He is scheduled to receive a list of proposals Tuesday from Vice President Biden, who is leading a task force on gun violence.
But most congressional Republicans and some Democrats oppose restrictive new measures, such as an assault-weapons ban.
Administration aides have said that the president is likely to call for renewing the ban on the most powerful rifles, even in the face of heavy opposition from the National Rifle Association. In the poll, 58 percent of Americans support the ban, which expired in 2004 after 10 years; 39 percent oppose it.
“My starting point is not to worry about the politics but to focus on what makes sense and what works,” Obama said at a news conference Monday. “What should we be doing to make sure our children are safe and reduce incidents of gun violence? We can do it in a way that comports with the Second Amendment.”
The president declined to be specific when asked what recourse he would have if lawmakers rejected the ban, saying that “members of Congress must have a debate and examine their own conscience.”
A question of priorities
While the poll showed cross-party support for some potential policies, there was a sharp divide on others, and particularly over how much emphasis the administration and Congress should place on addressing gun issues.
Democrats and Republicans both see the economy as the clear top priority for federal action, but while most Democrats also rank gun control as a high priority, few Republicans or independents agree. Most Republicans say stricter gun laws should be lower on the list or not a priority at all.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) on Monday called on Obama and Congress to enact strict new gun-control measures in the wake of Newtown. And Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) unveiled plans for an assault-rifle ban and tougher gun licensing requirements in his state. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) worked out a tough gun-control package with state legislators, who moved closer to passing the proposal Monday night.