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Washington • More than three-quarters of Utahns, including a large majority of Republicans, support expanding background checks on gun purchases, a newly released poll shows as President Barack Obama took executive action to bypass congressional gridlock on restricting firearm sales.

The 76 percent of Utahns who support legislation to expand background checks on gun sales to purchases made over the Internet or at gun shows includes 52 percent who said they "strongly" favor such a move.

About 21 percent of people surveyed said they opposed new background checks, according to the poll commissioned by and conducted in December before news of Obama's executive actions.

The Utah survey matches polls nationally that show most Americans favor background checks for gun purchases. About 70 percent of Americans routinely say they favor such checks, and a recent poll showed 92 percent of Americans — including 87 percent of Republicans — want checks for all gun buyers.

Obama noted that finding Tuesday as he unveiled executive orders that allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more flexibility to decide who is required to have a license to sell guns and perform background checks. The president noted it was a popular move even if Congress had failed to pass any such legislation.

"Until we have a Congress that's in line with the majority of Americans, there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives, actions that protect our rights and our kids," Obama said, adding, "We know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence."

The Utah poll shows 80 percent of women favor new gun-control laws, compared with 74 percent of men.

About 63 percent of those who described themselves as "very conservative" wanted "universal" background checks, compared with 33 percent who opposed them. About 96 percent of Democrats said they favored more stringent gun laws.

The poll, by Dan Jones & Associates from Dec. 8-14, surveyed 622 adults in Utah and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.93 percentage points.