What the numbers show about Americans’ views on gun control measures

Gun control measures are being debated once again after one of the worst mass shootings in schools has ripped apart a Texas community.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at a primary school in Uvalde. The suspect had legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles in the days after his 18th birthday, authorities said.

Gun laws vary widely by state, and Texas is home to some of the weakest in the country, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Republican lawmakers in the state have repeatedly loosened gun restrictions even after recent mass shootings there.

Following the Uvalde shooting, several members of Congress have said they will discuss gun control legislation when they return from recess next week, including possible measures that show broad support among Americans.

“Knowing that we cannot turn back the clock to prevent this tragedy from happening, the obvious question is how can we prevent something like this from happening,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thursday on the Senate floor. “I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any loopholes that could have done something to make this attack less likely, that could have actually prevented this attack from happening.”

In this July 22, 2021, file photo, rifles and ammunition are for sale at a shooting range in West Point, Kentucky.

Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Wednesday that he is open to supporting certain gun control measures, including expanded background checks.

“Improving our background check capability makes sense,” Romney said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, said Wednesday that the House will pass a bill next month to create a national “red flag” law. The proposed bill would allow family members or law enforcement officers “to apply for an extreme risk protection order with respect to a person who poses a risk to themselves or others.”

Universal background checks and red flag laws are widely supported by the public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in September 2019 found 89% support for universal background checks and 86% support for red flag laws.

There was also broad bipartisan support; Mandatory background checks and red flag laws won the support of at least eight in 10 Republicans and conservatives, and as many or more of everyone else, the poll found.

An April 2021 Quinnipiac University survey of gun laws also found overwhelming support for requiring background checks for all gun buyers (89%). Support was similarly high among Republicans (84%).

There was less widespread support for other gun control measures. The 2019 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that six in 10 support a ban on high-capacity ammo magazines and 56% support a ban on the sale of assault weapons. Support for an assault weapons ban varied widely along political lines, with 81% of Democrats, 55% of independents and 33% of Republicans in favor.

PHOTO: Americans' position on gun control measures

The American position on gun control measures

ABC News/Washington Post poll

Additionally, the poll found that 52% support a mandatory buyback program in which the government would require owners to turn in their assault weapons in exchange for payment.

The 2021 Quinnipiac University poll was similarly split on other gun control measures, with 52% supporting a national ban on the sale of assault weapons and 51% supporting a national ban on the sale of assault weapons. the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. .

PHOTO: Stephanie and Michael Chavez of San Antonio pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School, the site of a mass shooting, in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022.

Stephanie and Michael Chavez of San Antonio pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School, the site of a mass shooting, in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022.

Nuri Vallbona/Reuters

In the Uvalde massacre, the gunman had a total of seven 30-round magazines in the classroom where the shooting took place, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

One 30-round magazine was in an AR-15-style rifle used in the shootout and six magazines were carried in a tactical vest worn by the shooter, with the potential to hold 210 rounds.

It is not clear how many rounds were spent.

After the massacre, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote on gun control measures, though exactly what policies are unclear.

“Let me be clear: We are going to vote on gun legislation,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “The American people are tired of moments of silence, tired of kind words that offer thoughts and prayers.”

Lalee Ibssa and Trish Turner of ABC News contributed to this report.

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