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Becky Bowers
By Becky Bowers April 2, 2013

Mark Kelly says 94 percent of Floridians support universal background checks

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Arizona shooting victim Gabby Giffords, said that while "gun control" doesn’t poll very well, there’s "incredible momentum" to pass a universal background check law.

Never mind five Republican senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who say that they’re going to filibuster any new "Second Amendment restrictions."

"I would say to Marco Rubio that 94 percent of his constituents support a universal background check," Kelly told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on March 31, 2013.

National polls this year show strong support for universal background checks, from Pew Research Center’s 85 percent to Quinnipiac University’s 92 percent.

We wondered, is it true that 94 percent of Floridians —who share their state with NRA superlobbyist Marion Hammer and a Stand Your Ground law — favor universal background checks?

The polls

We reached out to Kelly and Gifford’s advocacy group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, but didn’t immediately hear back.

Still, we quickly found a poll supporting Kelly’s "94 percent" figure.

It came from a group co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The February survey of 600 voters was conducted by the polling firm of Democratic consultant Doug Schoen.

We wouldn’t call that an independent survey.

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However, Quinnipiac University conducted state surveys in March. And its poll of 1,000 registered voters found 91 percent support for universal background checks.

The question: "Do you favor or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?"

That also supports Kelly’s "94 percent" claim — within the Quinnipiac poll’s 3.1 percentage point margin of error.

It’s also decent evidence that Floridians are in line with the country on expanding background checks from just sales by federally licensed dealers to sales between private sellers, sometimes referred to as closing the "gun show loophole" or "private seller loophole."

Even among Florida Republicans, the Quinnipiac poll showed 87 percent support.

Rubio hasn’t been so clear.

In January, he gave an interview that made it sound like he was open to universal checks. ("I think you'll find support for that so long as there's not a public database that people can look up and see who owns what guns and where they live.")

Then his spokesman clarified he wasn’t. ("Expanding it to private sales is problematic because you are asking an individual to conduct a background check on another individual. That is expensive and hard to do, and he does not support that.")

His most recent statement doesn’t endorse background checks and opposes "new Second Amendment restrictions."

Our ruling

Kelly said "94 percent of (Rubio's) constituents support a universal background check." A major state poll conducted in March shows 91 percent of Florida voters favor requiring checks "for all gun buyers." Kelly’s claim is within the poll’s margin of error. We rate his statement True.

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Mark Kelly says 94 percent of Floridians support universal background checks

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