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Arizona poll: Limited support for new gun regulations

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PHOENIX — Arizonans appear less interested in new gun control regulations.

A new poll finds only 33 percent of those asked want stricter laws on the sale of firearms. That compares with 48 percent just two years ago.

Instead, the Behavior Research Center survey of 701 adult heads of household conducted last month, including 460 registered voters, finds 48 percent think the current level of control is just fine, up 10 points from the 2013 poll. There was virtually no change among those who want fewer regulations.

Pollster Earl de Berge said part of that is that it's now four years since Gabrielle Giffords was shot by Jared Loughner while the newly reelected congresswoman was meeting with constituents in the parking lot of a Tucson grocery story.

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But de Berge said it's more likely that Arizonans are affected by more recent headlines and names like Charlie Hebdo.

"There's been a lot of stuff that's happened in between, not the least of which is growing concern in America about Islamic terrorists extremists presence in our midst," he said, not only in France where they massacred staffers of the satire magazine but perhaps closer to home.

"The other part of it goes to Ferguson and those kinds of issues where people are beginning to say, 'Gee, maybe I do need to be in the role of personal self defense,' " de Berge continued, referring to the disturbances that followed the police shooting of an unarmed civilian last year in Missouri.

One pattern the survey found is the big drop in interest in stricter gun laws occurred among Anglos. But de Berge said he doubts that's related to racism.

"It may have to do with the proximity to the kinds of crime associated with guns that these different population groups experience," he said. Put another way, de Berge said that Latino and African-American communities are more likely to be beset by gun-related crimes and are more interested in controlling who gets to have one.

The survey, which has a 3.8 percent margin of error, found that interest in stricter gun laws dropped among all political and age groups. It also declined among residents of the state's two largest counties but actually rose slightly among rural residents.

Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia

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