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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

1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel recommends Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A key panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older, as well as those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: The approval is the near-final step in making the booster shots available to tens of millions of Americans, and comes a day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups. CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to accept the recommendation.

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Southwest drought is worst on record, NOAA finds

In a stark new report, a team of NOAA and independent researchers found the 2020-2021 drought across the Southwest is the worst in the instrumental record, which dates to 1895.

Why it matters: They also concluded that global warming is making it far more severe, primarily by increasing average temperatures, which boosts evaporation.

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