April 8th, 2009
05:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Schneider: Why the public opinion shift on gun control?

Has public opinion shifted on gun control?
Has public opinion shifted on gun control?

(CNN) - Has public opinion shifted on gun control?

Yes. And in a very surprising way.

Binghamton . . . Pittsburgh . . . Oakland . . . Samson, Alabama . . . Carthage, North Carolina . . . sensational incidents of gun violence all over the country.

Are we seeing an impact on public opinion?

Since 2001, a majority of Americans has favored stricter gun laws. Though support has been trending slightly down. Eight years ago, 54 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun laws compared to 50 percent in 2007, according to a Gallup poll.

And now? A sharp, sudden drop. Only 39 percent of Americans now favor stricter gun laws.

It may have to do with the President Obama and the new administration.

"If he and the people in control of Congress right now could have what they want, they would heavily restrict or eliminate guns from this country," said Sean Healy, an attorney who has advocated on behalf of gun rights. At the moment, the country is seeing a surge in gun sales.

Or Americans may have heard what the new attorney general said. "There are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstate the ban on the sale of assault weapons," said Attorney General Eric Holder in February.

They may have also heard what the new secretary of state said about the ban.

"I, as a senator, supported measures to try and reinstate it. Politically, that is a very big hurdle in our congress. But there may be some approaches that could be acceptable and we are exploring those," Clinton said in March.

Support for tougher gun laws has held fairly steady among Democrats, but the sharp drop has been among Independents and Republicans, where there are fewer Obama supporters.

Among Republicans, only 33 percent support stricter gun laws now compared to 50 percent in 2007, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Among independents, support has dropped from 34 percent to 21 percent.

The Gallup poll reveals a gradual, long-term decline in support for gun control from the early 1990s to 2008. That coincides with a decline in the murder rate. But this year's sudden drop seems to be influenced by politics.


Filed under: Polls
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    This is not surprising. Obama is granting more favorable terms to terrorists and criminals than he does to law abiding citizens. The administration is trying to run the Arizona sheriff out of office because he is enforcing immigration laws (at the request of the Justice Department).

    Obama doesn't care what happens to citizens. We are on our own.

    April 8, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt

    Christianity is NOT DYING... This is what revelation 22v11 has to say to the future of RELIGION and it's affect on people:

    "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right, and let him who is HOLY continue to be holy"

    April 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. David Thomas

    This is not hard. More guns equals more crime. More guns equals more deaths. More guns equals more nuts having more guns. More guns equals more criminals. More guns equals more mass murder such as we have seen lately. This is just not hard to understand.

    April 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Chi Town

    Doesn't matter what the majority of people want. Congress will do it anyway. That's why the sales are through the roof and you can't find ammo because everyone is sold out.

    Walked into Cabela's... empty shelves of ammo everywhere... never saw that before. That and waiting lists because they are out of AKs, AKSs, ARs, Tach 9s, Mac 10s, etc, etc, etc, short on many auto mag fed handguns as well... plenty of revolvers though.

    April 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. Ed's Kate

    Guns should be more regulated than they are. There will always be sportsmen who use guns, that's not a problem. The problem is with the nutcakes who buy them for the wrong reasons. Also, the jerks who have talk shows on TV or Radio should watch their mouths. They have caused a lot of the recent problems of shootings in my view. One should always remember, it is not what you say but how you say something that can provoke all kinds of problems domestically and abroad. We sure found that out during the past 8 years.Remember!!!

    April 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. ray ray

    The shift away from Gun Control Laws is because Americans realize – for the first time in history – we have a President who sided AGAINST the 2nd Amendment.

    Obama stood with DC in supporting the Gun ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

    We need to preserve the 2nd Amendement NOW MORE THAN EVER!

    April 8, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Titlinger

    The ban on assault weapons cannot come some enough!

    April 8, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. just some guy

    Fear breeds irrational thought....

    April 8, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Evan

    I agree with the bumper sticker.

    You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

    April 8, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. LIP

    Hitler, Castro, Qaddafi, Stalin, Idi Amin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il and many others tell us that gun control is good and there are millions of dead reasons why it works so well.
    We see our rights as being stepped on and diminished daily, so why wouldn't we be concerned?

    April 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. handguns for whimps

    Hand guns are meant for two things ... to make gun companies and their management rich and the public afraid .....sorry that's the NRA ...........hand guns are for killing and for making little whimpy people feel safe.

    April 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Paul H

    Wow. Now how does this sit with a very left leaning administration? Will our Representatives listen to the people, or will they dictate what they want instead of representing what we want!

    April 8, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Michael M. Noonan

    An excellent trend.

    April 8, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. No Incumbents 2010

    Could it be, that people are finally waking up to the fact, that since murder is already illegal, most murderers couldn't care less about following gun "LAWS" in the first place? Or could it be that where we have the very strict gun laws I.E. DC, crime runs rampant?
    If you want to commit a violent crime you do not need a gun a knife will do just fine or a baseball bat, or whatever. Should we outlaw automobiles because of hit and runs?
    Or perhaps it is much deeper than all of this. Perhaps it is as Joseph Story in his commentary on theConstitution stated in 1890

    "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

    April 8, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Peter E

    I, as any other American, want loser gun control laws until I arm myself to the teeth, because I consider myself a 'responsible' gun owner... but in the hands of anyone else it's a dangerous weapon, because everyone ELSE is irresponsible. Hence I need to paranoidly buy dozens more guns, despite the fact that I am able to use only one at a time. Oh, and don't mind my kid who borrowed one of my guns to shoot your kid. It's not my fault since I am a 'responsible' parent, and not his fault either, he's just a kid.

    April 8, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    Their should be ban on Assault weapons,hand guns ,rifiles,shotguns
    are okay.

    April 8, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Michael I

    Every person should have the right to own a handgun , but what that person does with the gun is the key – to many people buy weapons then sell them

    April 8, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. payback

    ....I'am favor of strict gun control. Having, spent seven years in the military. I feel that, not everyone should have the right to have access to weapons. The people need to put the N.R.A. in check. Because, the only ones who benefit are the undertakers, the prison industrial complex, and gun makers. The ones who least benefit. Are Family Members, who has lost a loved-one from gun violence......

    April 8, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. OUT OF CONTROL

    The NRA says guns don't kill people kill, yes people kill people, animals with GUNS. ASK SARAH PALIN. We need to control gun sales at all Gun Shows. I saw a special on TV how easy it is to buy guns from shaddy gun salesman. We as a country a the biggest supplier of AK weapons being supplied to the Drug Lords in Mexico. Time to get a grip.

    April 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. Matt

    The gun violence in this country is ridiculous, how many massacres will it take for lunatics to realize that we need gun rules that are stricter

    April 8, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. j.r.

    people are starting to realize the uncertainty of life and that the number one line of protection is yourself.

    April 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. gary

    Only an idiot republican would not want tighter gun controls. Red necks and big gun lobbys setting their agenda.

    April 8, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Terri

    Hurricane Katrina was the reason for the last gun ceasure. And it took place real easy. (Maybe THAT'S why they call it the Big Easy)

    April 8, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Matt

    Fear is why. It will start to swing back around when all the crazies (which we are starting to see now) start killing people again.

    April 8, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. chubby

    Like you cannot rely on this administration to do what is right, the people cannot rely on the police to arrive in time for their defense against criminals. Therefore, we the people will take up arms against those law breakers to defend ourselves and our own and if necessary ensure they do not attempt to harm others again.

    April 8, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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