The concern about gun violence returned to a level just slightly above that seen in a poll the institute conducted last August, before the Sandy Hook shooting but after high-profile shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. A shooting at the Empire State Building occurred during that polling period.
After Sandy Hook, the polls show, concern over gun violence spiked in New Jersey across ideologies and demographic breakdowns. That trend has begun to return, with some backlash, poll director David Redlawsk, a Rutgers political science professor, said in a statement.
"In the immediate shock of the Sandy Hook shootings, partisanship and self-interest gave way briefly," Redlawsk said. "But we are beginning to see the usual partisan differences again, with Republicans supporting gun owners and owners reasserting their rights."
The new results show 78 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of independents, and 55 percent of Republicans answered that they were "very concerned" about gun violence.
A strong partisan split had 84 percent of Democrats, 42 percent of Republicans, and 66 percent of independents answering that controlling gun ownership was more important than protecting the right of Americans to own guns.
And respondents were split evenly on the effects of stricter gun laws on violence: 61 percent of Democrats polled said they believed stricter gun laws wold reduce the amount of violence, while 35 percent said violence levels would remain the same. Republican views reflected opposite opinions.
When asked about the causes of gun violence, respondents blamed easy access to guns, at 34 percent, more than twice as much as inadequate background checks, which was blamed about as much as parenting and treatment of the mentally ill.
A task force established by Gov. Christie is holding hearings this week as it prepares recommendations to advise the governor on how to address "violence control." On Tuesday in Camden, speakers focused on economic and social issues rather than direct gun control.
President Obama convened a similar task force after the Newtown shooting. Asked about specific parts of the president's plans, New Jerseyans voiced strong support for improved mental-health services and a tougher background check system (both 90 percent).
Three-quarters of New Jerseyans polled supported renewing a federal ban on military-style assault weapons and limiting access to high-capacity ammunition magazines. Seventy percent favored providing incentives for schools to hire resource officers and counselors.
Universal background checks, the measure most strongly supported by poll respondents, had 93 percent overall support, with little difference in partisan affiliation or gun ownership.
Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, firstname.lastname@example.org.