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Poll: Majorities favor assault weapons ban, background checks

The public heavily favors universal background checks for gun buyers, and a majority of Americans approve of a federal database to track gun sales as well as a ban on "assault style weapons," a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows. 

In the survey, 85 percent of respondents said they favor background checks for private and gun show sales, while only 12 percent say they oppose such checks. 

Sixty-seven percent of adults surveyed approve of a federal database to track gun sales, the poll indicated. A majority -- 55 percent -- back a ban on assault weapons, with 40 percent saying they don't approve of the ban, a measure for which President Barack Obama again voiced support during a press conference today. (The partisan breakdown, however, is stark, with seven in ten Democrats backing the ban compared to just 44 percent of Republicans.) 

A major gender gap also remains on the gun issue; women favor an assault weapons ban by almost 20 percentage points over men. Women are also far less likely to support the idea of encouraging more gun ownership among teachers and other school officials. 

Overall, the NRA-backed idea of encouraging more armed guards and police officers at schools garners wide support, with just 32 percent opposing and 64 percent favoring the proposal. 

But when it comes to arming more teachers, those numbers are nearly flipped, with 57 percent giving the idea a thumbs down. 

The Pew survey was conducted January 9-13, with a sample size of 1,502 adults. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.9 percentage points.