Meet the Press   |  March 31, 2013

Panel on polls: 90 percent support background checks

Despite the GOP’s hesitance to endorse universal background checks as part of gun control reform legislation, the public polling numbers show support for the initiative. A Meet the Press roundtable discusses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the entire country pledged we would do something about it, and that this time would be different. shame on us if we have forgotten.

>> we are back with our first roundtable. welcome back, everybody. all right, guns, david axelrod , the president has used the bully pulpit for is to re-energize the issue of gun debate. the polls are sort of speaking pretty loud here. the public doesn't seem too much the same desires.

>> well, yes and no. if you look at the same cbs poll you cited 90% still support background checks . i heard senator flake say it's a bridge too far. 90% of americans have crossed that bridge. 86% are republicans. and many of them, by the way, are in suburban swing districts that are currently held by republican members of congress. so i think the politics isn't all that clear on this, and if i were on the republican side , i would be looking hard at a way to find something that i can vote for that would satisfy that desire to deal with this problem.

>> tom davis , you did this for a living. what part of gun control is good politics for any republican?

>> it's tough. it's an intensity issue. polls measure one thing but the people who vote on it don't want the changes at this point. and in the republican base which is largely rural, there's no percentage voting for this in many of these districts.

>> peggy?

>> i think a big part of the story is that people don't trust congre congress. after newtown there was a great bubbling feeling of, my goodness, there must be at least some things we can do legislatively to make this whole gun situation better. if the congress, if the senate had moved quickly on discreet, small bill having to do with background checks -- i mean quickry in the weeks after newtown --

>> these are small bills.

>> move it quickly, do it. don't put it together in this big thing and then talk about these different kind of guns you're banning and having all these hearings. they failed to move quick and small.

>> is she right?

>> well, the senate moving quick quickly -- those two things don't go together.

>> they don't go together.

>> and never have.

>> sometimes you've got to.

>> my question is whether michael bloomberg with his money and his enthusiasm can manage to turn this into a voting issue on the pro- gun control side --

>> a voting issue in november. i get that. we had mark pryor , we're not going it to let somebody from new york city -- mary landrieu , heidi heitkamp , democrats who don't seem to like the role.

>> i think he's a good foil for them to certify their authenticity.

>> their independence.

>> in states like new jersey, pennsylvania, california, new york, there are members for whom i think this could be an issue especially if bloomberg turns up the heat in the upcoming campaign.

>> you used to do his ysuburban district. that's the one you represented. there is a different type of voter there than in the majority.

>> there aren't many districts like that that are still republican. there are some. they'll have a vulnerability and these republicans that are most likely to cross on background checks and i think the mayor and others add pressure on these members to vote that way.