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Morning Joe poll: 60 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws

Strong majorities of Americans say they favor stricter gun laws, including an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks for private gun sales, according to a new national Morning Joe/Marist poll.

Read the entire poll here

Six in 10 respondents – including 83 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of gun owners and 37 percent of Republicans – believe that the laws covering gun sales should be stricter.

This figure is virtually unchanged from the 61 percent who backed stricter gun laws when a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked the same question in February, even though at least one other national survey has found waning support for gun-control laws months after the Dec. 2012 shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Jessica Hill / AP

John Woodall. left, of Newtown, Conn., carries a sign that he says indicates the percentage of Americans who support universal background checks, speaks with Gordon Jones of Southbury, Conn., a supporter of gun rights during a rally outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters in Newtown on March 28.

What’s more, the Morning Joe/Marist poll finds that 87 percent of Americans support background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows, and 59 percent favor legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons.

Later this month, the U.S. Senate is set to consider Democratic-backed gun legislation that, among other provisions, contains a requirement for universal background checks. With Republican senators threatening to filibuster the legislation, its prospects for passage remain uncertain.

Democrats also are expected to offer an assault-weapons ban as an amendment to the legislation, but it has almost no chance to win passage in the Senate.

Favoring job creation over deficit reduction
Turning to the economy and the deficit, the Morning Joe/Marist survey shows that Americans – by nearly a 2-to-1 margin – want President Barack Obama and Congress to make job creation their top priority (64 percent) instead of deficit reduction (33 percent).

Top Talkers: The first-ever Morning Joe/Marist poll shows that a majority finds controlling gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights, think gun laws should be more strict, and support a ban on assault weapons. The Morning Joe panel -- including New York Magazine's John Heilemann and Mike Barnicle -- discusses the results of the poll.

Those who prefer Washington’s political leaders to emphasize job creation include 76 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans; a narrow majority of Republican respondents (51 percent) want the focus to be on deficit reduction.

Also, Obama edges congressional Republicans by four percentage points, 44 percent to 40 percent, on the question of who has a better approach to deal with the federal budget deficit.

As the Republican Party tries to find their message on gun control in the wake of Newtown and on gay marriage before the Supreme Court rulings this summer, Stuart Stevens, Romney's 2012 campaign manager, offers them some advice.

But the president’s approach to deficit reduction – calling for a combination of spending cuts and increased tax revenues – is more popular than the Republicans’ cuts-only approach.

Forty-two percent of respondents prefer a mixture of spending cuts (including to entitlement programs) and revenue increases; 35 percent pick increasing mostly revenue; and just 17 percent choose mostly cutting government spending (including to programs like Medicare and Medicaid).

The Morning Joe/Marist poll was conducted March 25-March 27 of 1,219 national respondents by both landline phone and cellphone. It has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.8 percentage points.