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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

EDINA, Minn. — After three deadly mass shootings in one week, some swing voters here are ready to ban assault weapons and institute federal background checks on all gun purchases.

  • That was one of the main takeaways from our Engagious/FPG focus group on Monday, which included 7 people who flipped from Barack Obama to Donald Trump and 4 who switched from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton.

Why it matters: While this is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters want the government to respond to the mass shootings that have shocked the nation. But there's still a long way for Congress to go before solutions like these are implemented.

  • It's especially complicated for Republicans. "GOP politicians are much more resistant to gun control than GOP voters are," per FiveThirtyEight's Perry Bacon Jr.
  • Republican lawmakers "have to be aware that a vote for some kind of gun control measure (even a popular one) could potentially get you cast as 'anti-gun,'" he writes, which could make them more vulnerable come election time.

We asked the participants if they thought there should be a federal ban on assault weapons in the U.S. Every single person raised their hand.

  • There hasn't been unanimous agreement on anything in any of our previous 5 focus groups this year.

What they're saying: The participants maintained that position even when presented with the counterargument that if we start banning assault weapons, the government will try to ban other guns.

  • "That's a bunch of BS," said Dennis Pearson, a 66-year-old Obama/Trump voter.
  • "If it's an assault gun, it should be taken away," said Virginia Bailey, a 55-year-old Obama/Trump voter. Pearson agreed: "They're only made to kill people."
  • These types of guns only have a place in the military or while hunting, others said.
  • "Anyone who feels the need to have an assault rifle probably shouldn't [have one]," said Theresa Nieswaag, a 34-year-old Obama/Trump voter.
  • "The Dayton shooter had a clip with 100 rounds in it," said 63-year-old Doug S., throwing his hands up, adding: "Unnecessary."
  • Various people nodded their heads and said "Oh, yes" and "wonderful" to the idea of Congress passing a law that bans the personal ownership of assault weapons.

There was also unanimous support among these Romney/Clinton and Obama/Trump voters for a federal background check on the purchase of a weapon.

  • Some said people should be required to say what they intend to do with the gun and why they need it.
  • One woman said gun buyers' Facebook pages should be checked for hints of whether they have bad intentions.

Between the lines: Nobody thought it would be a good solution to have more armed Americans as a way to try to stop mass shooters. Instead, they said they wished their representatives in Washington would focus on:

  • Mental health and having more affordable options to get help with that, particularly with medication and therapy.
  • Banning the resale of guns at gun shows.

These voters recognized that banning assault weapons wouldn't automatically fix the problem, but they all agreed it's a helpful starting point. "Having that barrier makes it a lot harder if it's criminalized," said Jordan R., a 26-year-old Romney/Clinton voter.

Go deeper: Watch the full focus group video on gun control.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

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