True
Abele
90 percent of Americans "support universal background checks" for gun purchases.  

Chris Abele on Monday, October 2nd, 2017 in a tweet

Do 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun sales?

Americans have often been polled on whether background checks should be done for gun sales made at gun shows. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

In the first hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting, many leading elected officials in Wisconsin issued statements about prayer and condolences, but Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele went further.

Abele, a Democrat who holds a nonpartisan office, said in a tweet on Oct. 2, 2017:

Americans have overwhelmingly supported common sense gun reform. 90% support universal background checks. Elected officials must act.

In 2015, we rated as True a claim that polling showed nearly 74 percent of National Rifle Association members support requiring background checks for all gun sales. The statement was made by Wisconsin state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.

So, what about Abele’s claim about all Americans?

The latest polls and our checks with four polling experts indicate support is at 90 percent, give or take a few percentage points.

Recent polls

Here’s a look at national polls done in 2016 or 2017 on this question.

Poll

Date

Question

Percent support/favor

Quinnipiac University

June 2017

Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?

94%

Washington University American Panel Survey

July 2016

Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers, no matter where the gun is purchased?

84%

CBS News

June 2016

Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?

89%

Morning Consult

June 2016

Do you support requiring all sellers to run background checks on anyone who buys a gun?

86%*

Public Policy Polling

Mar. 2016

Do you support or oppose requiring a criminal background check of every person who wants to buy a firearm?

84%

CBS News/New York Times

Jan.2016

Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?

88%

*This was a poll of registered voters, rather than simply adults

 

So, the latest poll shows support above 90 percent, while three other recent polls show support between 84 percent and 89 percent.

Polling expert Steven Smith, a professor of social sciences and political science at Washington University in St. Louis, told us that the wording of questions in national surveys can vary and usually do not use the term "universal." But well over 80 percent, and sometimes over 90 percent, of respondents favor background checks for all gun sales, he said.

Polling experts Kathy Frankovic, a former consultant for CBS News, Karlyn Bowman at the American Enterprise Institute think tank and Charles Franklin at Marquette University Law School agreed that such results have been consistent.

It’s worth noting that some other recent polls didn’t ask specifically about a background check for every gun sale, but they asked similar questions and got similar results:

Pew Research Center (March 2017): "Please indicate whether you would strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks." Favor or strongly favor: 84 percent.

CNN/ORC (June 2016): "Would you generally favor or oppose a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun in order to determine whether the prospective buyer has been convicted of a felony?" Favor: 92 percent.

We’ll also note that in July 2016, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said: "Ninety percent of Americans want our background check system strengthened and expanded to cover more gun sales." PolitiFact National’s rating was True.

Our rating

Abele says 90 percent of Americans "support universal background checks" for gun purchases.

"Universal" is the term for background checks to be done on every gun sale. We found support for that policy at 94 percent in the latest national poll. Support ranged between 84 percent and 89 percent in the four other most recent polls. Experts say support at or near 90 percent has been consistent for years.

For a statement that is accurate and has nothing significant missing, our rating is True.

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90 percent of Americans "support universal background checks" for gun purchases.
In a tweet
Monday, October 2, 2017