New Poll Says America Focused, Divided on Gun Control

A new poll conducted by CNN and ORC International shows that three issues are shaping voters' decisions leading up to the 2016 presidential election, illegal immigration, abortion, and gun control.

According to this story from CNN.com, in June 2011, 22 percent of voters called gun policy an "extremely important" issue in their vote for president. That number has risen 20 points since then to 42 percent.

According to the polling data, the public is broadly in favor of expanded background checks for gun buyers and preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns, the story says. At the same time, however, this new poll shows majorities think current laws are going in the wrong direction, or that they're too harsh. People also doubt expanded background checks would keep guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill, according to the poll.

After the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, 56 percent of people polled said existing laws make it too easy for people to buy guns. Now, that number is down to 41 percent. About half say the current laws are about right, and 10 percent say they make it too difficult to buy a gun.

Among those who currently think it's too easy to buy a gun, only small majorities believe that implementing more comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases would be likely to stop gun purchases by the mentally ill (53 percent) or convicted criminals (55 percent), the story says.

If these numbers are believed to be reflective of the national opinion, there seems to be no overwhelming feeling about current gun laws, but certainly there is doubt that proposed legislation and enhanced background checks will do anything at all to reduce gun violence or to decrease the number of guns that find their way into the hands of criminals.

The poll also reveals that voters view President Barack Obama negatively when it comes to his handling of gun policy, with 59 percent saying they disapprove and only 35 percent approving of his work. The numbers say that dropoff comes primarily from a change of liberal opinions.