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Support soars for tougher gun laws, surveys show

More Americans support tougher restrictions on gun ownership, two national surveys released Monday show.

A new Gallup survey finds Americans’ support for tougher gun laws has spiked in the past year to 38 percent, the highest level since 2001.

That's up from 25 percent just one year ago -- before the mass shootings at a Batman screening in Aurora, Colo., and an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Despite the increase, a larger percentage of Americans, 43 percent in the Gallup poll, remain content with the current regulations on guns, and 5 percent of respondents said they would like to see gun laws loosened.

Released a month after the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 dead, the surveys have tested American sentiment as debate rages about whether or not there should be more regulations on the purchase and possession of firearms.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found similar trends: 85 percent of those polled support background checks for private gun sales and on sales at gun shows. A large majority of respondents – 80 percent – also support preventing mentally ill people from buying guns.

Prominent politicians, including Conn. Gov. Dan Malloy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have urged legislators in their states to pass new or tougher bans on assault weapons.

A day earlier than planned, Vice President Biden is expected to deliver proposals from the White House’s gun control task force to President Obama on Monday.

Gun-rights groups: Our 'backs are against the wall'

Male respondents and Democrats were among the groups that showed the most change in their views in the latest Gallup poll: 35 percent of men nationally now say they are dissatisfied with current gun laws, up from 18 percent a year ago.

Women showed a 10 point increase over the last year in the Gallup poll, with 41 percent now saying they are unhappy with current gun laws and want to see them strengthened.

Support for stricter gun laws spiked among nonwhites, as well, jumping from 32 percent to 49 percent, according to Gallup data.

Gov. Cuomo proposes nation's 'toughest' ban on assault weapons

The surveys showed a widening partisan rift over guns. Democrats are now far more likely than Republicans to favor new gun laws: 64 percent of Democrats surveyed in the Gallup poll said they were dissatisfied with current gun policy, compared to 18 percent of Republicans. Though overall two-thirds of Americans in the Pew survey support a federal database to track gun sales, support is divided between blue and red lines: 84 percent of Democrats support a database, while only 49 percent of Republicans said the same.

The Pew survey also found gun-rights supporters are more politically active than their counterparts: Twenty-three percent of those who prioritize gun rights have given money to an organization that takes a position on gun policy, versus only 5 percent of those who prioritize gun control have done the same. The poll also found gun-rights advocates are about twice as likely to have contacted a public official about gun policy, than gun-control supporters.

When asked about school-safety proposals, the Pew poll found 64 percent favor armed security guards and police in more schools, but only 40 percent support arming more teachers and school officials.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted between January 9 and 13. The poll sampled 1,502 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 points.

In Gallup’s study, the questions on guns were asked in their "Mood of the Nation" survey conducted between January 7 and 10. This survey sampled 1,011 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus four points.