CNN Poll: Gun control opinions following shootings
August 9th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Gun control opinions following shootings

Washington (CNN) - Americans' attitudes toward gun control have remained steady in the wake of the recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday indicates that the public remains divided on the issue, with 50% saying they favor no restrictions or only minor restrictions on owning guns and 48% supporting major restrictions or a complete ban on gun ownership by individuals except police and other authorized personnel.

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Those numbers are identical to where they were in 2011, and the number who support major restrictions or a complete ban has remained in the 48%-to-50% range for more than a decade.

"Not surprisingly, there are gender and ideological gaps on this issue, with more than six in ten women and two thirds of self-described liberals supporting major restrictions or a complete ban, compared to just 34% of men and 36% of self-described conservatives," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And major restrictions on guns are most popular in urban areas and in the Northeast than in the rest of the country."

What specific restrictions do Americans favor?

The poll indicates that two meet with almost unanimous approval: Ninety-six percent are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons or people with mental health problems from owning guns.

Three-quarters of people questioned favor gun registration with local governments, and roughly six in ten favor bans on the sale or possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. But 54% oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own, and only one in ten think that all Americans should be prevented from owning guns.

"It's important to note that the numbers on those proposals have also remained essentially unchanged in the wake of the recent shootings," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Tuesday and Wednesday (August 7-8), after Sunday's shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and after last month's shootings at a movie theater in Colorado.

One-thousand and ten adult Americans were questioned by telephone in the survey. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

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Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Gun rights
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. ana

    Guns should be illegal everywhere. If you want one, you should take a psychological test to see if your mentally stable & responsible to have a gun or a collection of guns.

    August 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    When I was young, the NRA was focused on gun education and gun safety. Now they are in favor of the 100 bullet clips, and for individuals to be able to buy automatics and turn around and sell them to cartels on the same day.

    August 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. therealbartonfunk

    I'm not sure about this report. So it is basically 50 (no or some restrictions) to 48 (MAJOR or total restrictions). That seems to me like the vast majority of American favor SOME restriction on guns and then about half the country favoring major restrictions. Of course, if you read the article it's as if American's oppose gun restrictions. Seems to me that Americans favor gun regulation and the NRA just has a lot of money to buy votes. At some point enough people are going to get killed that people will care. Of course, it will have to be rich people and attacks on corporations earning power.

    August 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Syd

    And so we all need to live in danger because 50% of us are idiots.

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. AL in West Palm Beach

    So if this was a national poll and 60% of the people said, "We want to ban the sale and or possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips."

    You'd claim it was too close to call?

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. schaz

    The courts have spoken, so drop it.

    Or does that only work when the courts approve of an issue that Democrats are in favor of?

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. JohnRJohnson

    This poll only proves that roughly half the population is crazy at any given time on any given issue. There is no rational reason for any private citizen to own an assault weapon, i.e. a clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle OR pistol. They are weapons of war designed to kill a lot of people in a matter of seconds. A handful of these people actually believe that they have a constitutional right to own these kinds of weapons because they'll need them when they conduct their violent overthrow of the US government. I mean, after all, we simply can't allow the government to make us eat broccoli. Forget the fact that the Constitution which they seem to care so much about provides for free elections which enables a majority of the country to vote unpopular administrations out of office in peaceful elections. Obviously, shooting at people, or threatening to shoot people, is a lot more fun than just voting.

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Jon

    Thomas, perhaps your forgot this country is a Constitutional Republic. Quit trying to make it something that the forefathers decided was wrong.

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. FredKelly

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Benjamin Franklin

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. Dan M

    Yes Thomas. Rights can't be removed by simple majority, we need a consensus. Rights are not negotiable.

    August 9, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. JD

    I'm a law abiding citizen and I own two so called "assault rifles" and will likely own more in the future. The one thing that people don't understand is that regardless of what laws are enacted, if some person wants to do harm and they want to use a gun, one way or another they'll get a gun. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. There are no restrictions on owning knives, baseball bats or automobiles and plenty of people are killed by those on a daily basis. If you believe in the Constitution of the United States, then guns are a right, not a privilige. If you don't believe in it, then get out of the country.

    August 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Me

    96% are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons/people with mental health issues from owning guns. How are those percentages not 100??

    People protect themselves at home, but no where else. Not at the place of worship, work, the beach, shopping etc.

    August 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Pan3

    We need more gun control especially for automatic machine guns and tear gas, what on earth does an average citizen need tear gas for?

    August 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. HA25

    So it would seem, Thomas that you believe laws should be based on polls. Whatever people think we should do. Pure democracy, irrespective of what rights it tramples on or if constitutional?
    Also, our government is designed to represent our nation, not just the highly populated northeast. Thus the Senate. So if 6 out of 10 are mostly in the northeast, but 30 out of 50 states oppose – then a ban would not pass.

    Think for yourself a little bit, man, about where your argument would lead us...

    August 9, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. RJ

    Ban all semi-automatic weapons???
    I love how uneducated people are as to what a semi-automatic weapon is.
    A double action revolver is a semi-automatic weapon.

    So we should all go back to single action revolvers and bolt-action/lever action/pump rifles and shotguns?

    August 9, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. RP

    The government knows that they can't take the guns away from us because of the enormous backlash they would get – possibly another civil war. So they have to take it away slowly.

    August 9, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. wildernessyes

    I am on the 48% side. Guns are a menace and they need to go. Until then, people that shoot their guns on any property that is not their own, should be forced to pick up their bullets. This is litter, plain and simple. It is no different than throwing out the McDonald's bag. Once the bullet is picked up, it can be returned for another bullet. Do the right thing and stop the gun littering today.

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. Gun Owner

    It's amazing that when someone takes a gun and shoots someone else the reaction is for "Gun Control". Now if this same person goes around stabbing people with a knife and they are considered "Disturbed". Where is the ban on knifes? Why does the weapon of choice come into play when in all my years I have never seen a gun just getup and shoot someone.

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. jonkers

    this is dumb and for anyone to think gun violence will end anytime soon cause they make it harder to get a gun doesn't see the real problem. sadly ppl will point out that yes 3-4 of these gun massacres came from ppl who owned legal guns but everyday many ppl die from the firing of unlawfully held guns and there is no way to ban this ppl will find gun off the main market no matter what. all gun restrictions and tighter laws around guns do is make it harder for law abiding citizens to get them

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. cali girl

    People LOVE their guns. If I could make a wish it is to make AK 47 completely illegal.

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Greg

    Well let's wait until it actuall is 6 in 10 for semi-autos, which it probably isn't. Thanks CNN...

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Mike

    Of course there should be background checks on gun purchasers and those with mental health problems should not be allowed to buy or own a gun. But semi-automatic gun does not mean a "machine gun" or a weapon that fires at a high rate with one press of the trigger. All the term semi-automatic means is one press of the trigger and one bullet fires, and the next one loads in automatically before it can be fired again with another press of the trigger. The alternative to semi-automatic is the old-fashioned single-shot, bolt action for a rifle or a six-shooter revolver pistol.

    August 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Spendlove

    Guns are for waging war, are your neighbors the enemy?

    August 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. JohnRJohnson

    The only thing this poll proves is that roughly half the population is crazy at any given time on any given issue. There is no rational reason for any private citizen to own an assault weapon, i.e. a clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle OR pistol. They are weapons of war designed to kill a lot of people in a matter of seconds. A handful of these people actually believe that they have a constitutional right to own these kinds of weapons because they'll need them when they conduct their violent overthrow of the US government. I mean, after all, we simply can't allow the government to make us eat broccoli. Forget the fact that the Constitution which they seem to care so much about provides for free elections which enables a majority of the country to vote unpopular administrations out of office in peaceful elections. Obviously, shooting at people, or threatening to shoot people, is a lot more fun than just voting.

    August 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. jsmoulder

    The NRA is still about gun safety, and the Second Amendment always has been always will be.

    August 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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