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Poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote

Poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote
CNN/Gregg Canes
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 8:21am

(CNN) -- Heading into last week's gun control vote, polls showed that nearly nine in 10 Americans favored background checks not currently required by law for gun sales--a rarely seen, overwhelming amount of support for a piece of legislation in Washington.

Now that the Senate actually failed to pass such a measure, a new poll indicates Americans aren't as upset about the unsuccessful bill.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on a number of amendments to a gun control package in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre that left 20 children and six adults killed. One of the provisions--the one thought most likely to get passed--was a bipartisan compromise that would expand the background check system to include private sales at gun shows and online.

In a 54-46 vote, the Senate came short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead with the legislation.

But a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll suggests that post-vote attitudes stray from the wide support for the background check measure before the debate, which hovered around 85% in multiple polls.

A plurality of Americans--47%--say they are either "angry" or "disappointed" with the Senate's action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39% say they are "relieved" or "happy" about the vote.

Looking further at the partisan breakdown, a little more than two-thirds of Democrats are disappointed or angry, and 22% are happy or relieved.

Only four Democrats voted against the amendment--all of whom are from states with large swaths of conservative voters. The four lawmakers included Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. (Senate Majority Harry Reid voted "no" for procedural reasons that would allow him to bring up the bill again in the future.)

As for Republicans, the poll shows a slight majority--51%--say they are very happy or relieved, while just over one-third say they are disappointed or angry. GOP members of the Senate largely voted against the measure, with the exception of four senators: Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Independents are more split, according to the poll. Forty-eight percent approve of the vote, while 41% disapprove.

Reid decided to shelve the bill, vowing to bring it back to the Senate floor once they feel confident that it could get more approval.

"We're gonna have time to work on what people want to do before we come back to this," Reid said last week on the Senate floor, adding that this option allows them to return to the bill without returning to square one. "It will only be a matter of time."

President Barack Obama, who strongly pushed action on gun control, condemned the Senate's vote, saying it marked a "shameful day in Washington." Speaking from the White House Rose Garden last week shortly after the amendment failed, the president vowed that this is only "Round One" of the fight for tougher gun laws.

The Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll was conducted April 19-21, with 1,002 adults interviewed by telephone. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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