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Gun restrictions have widespread public support: poll

U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by 8-year old letter writer Hinna Zeejah (L), 10-year old letter writer Taejah Goode (3rd L), 11-year o
U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by 8-year old letter writer Hinna Zeejah (L), 10-year old letter writer Taejah Goode (3rd L), 11-year o

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About three-quarters of Americans surveyed support proposals to ban the sale of automatic weapons, ban high-capacity ammunition clips and expand background checks on all gun buyers, according to an online Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday.

Those proposals were at the heart of President Barack Obama's package of recommendations to Congress on Wednesday designed to curb gun violence after last month's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults.

Obama's plan has drawn heavy opposition from gun-rights advocates, led by the National Rifle Association, and faces a tough battle for approval in the coming months in a divided and fiercely partisan Congress.

The reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons, which was approved in 1994 but expired 10 years later when Congress failed to renew it, is seen as the toughest sell to lawmakers, even though the poll found broad public support for it.

The poll, mostly taken before Obama released his recommendations, found 74 percent of Americans favor a ban on assault weapons, with 26 percent opposed. A ban on high-capacity ammunition clips was backed by 74 percent, and 26 percent were opposed.

The poll also found 86 percent favor expanded background checks of all gun buyers, including sales at gun shows and between private parties, with 14 percent opposed.

A proposal to place armed guards in schools, which has been backed by the NRA, was favored by 72 percent with 28 percent opposed.

The online poll of 559 American adults had a credibility interval, similar to a margin of error, of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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