By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Feb 01, 2013 07:23 PM EST

Sig Sauer handguns are displayed during the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas January 15, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)

More than 90 percent of Americans support background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The poll surveyed people in three states: Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, both gun owners and non-gun owners.

In Virginia, 92 percent of respondents supported the checks. Pennsylvania was next, with 95 percent support, and in New Jersey, 96 percent of respondents support the background checks.

The support extended to gun-owning households as well, with support falling only a single point in households that own at least one gun in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and identical support in New Jersey.

The support cut across political, educational and age divisions. Support was nearly identical among self-described Republicans, Democrats and independents, with support among independents dropping up to two points but remaining in the mid to high 90s.

There was little difference between respondents with and without college degrees, or among different age groups. Urban and rural respondents also showed similar levels of support.

However, when asked about stricter gun laws, support among many respondents dropped, to 40 or 50 percent among some demographics, though respondents were offered the choice between that or having armed guards posted in schools.

Of course, in order to require background checks at gun shows, new laws will be required.

Support for armed guards in schools hovered below 50 percent, but still, a significant portion of respondents would consider the measure, though the poll did not ask what kind of guards they should be or how the extra security should be paid for.

The poll results show extremely high levels of support for closing the "gun show loophole," a measure Democrats and President Obama have long advocated, as well as many Republicans in Congress.

But a vocal minority of conservative and libertarian politicians opposed the measures, as does the National Rifle Association, the influential lobbying group for gun manufacturers.

The poll shows a divide between public sentiment and the positions of gun advocates and their allies in Congress. After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in December of last year, the public is looking for ways to reduce gun violence and has shown a new willingness to consider previously unpalatable options.

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