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. sammy zoso

    As Mayor Bloomberg of N.Y. City said if the number of deaths from use of guns were a virus the nation would demand action. Instead mass shootings get some attention for a few days and fade away – until the next mass shooting. Nothing changes and it never will. Politicians are gutless and like it or not we are a nation divided on almost every issue, especially this one. How small town and rural America gets what they want on the gun issue is a riddle to me. Do they even vote?

    August 9, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. SafeJourney

    How many more people have to die in mass shooting before they ban semi automatic weapons and mullti round clips

    August 9, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. rick1948

    The simple fact is that there are not enough police on the planet to protect everyone. If someone breaks into your home or attacks you on the street and you are lucky enough to get a 911 call off, all the police will be able to do when they get there is write a report about what already happened to you. So, you'd better be able to protect yourself. Having said that, being someone who has carried a weapon for 45 odd years in and out of the military, and a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, I also completely reject the conservative stance, mouthed by the NRA, that all Americans have a constitutional right to own a fully automatic weapon. There has to be some common sense injected into the process. Gun ownership does not have to be all or nothing.

    August 9, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. truth4all

    get off gun control guns don't kill people and all of you complaining about "high capacity magazines" high capacity as compared to what ? single shot ? get over yourself the gun isn't to blame its the fool that uses it wrong and on another note you can all THANK the high capacity magazine in the Co. shooting for not killing more since it JAMMED ! and the 100 round mags have a high rate of malfunction that result in jamming...but oh yes that's the problem. and what no one seems to be asking here about Co...he went out a rear exit ...in every theater I have seen those are FIRE EXITS with alarms on the door otherwise what would keep you from paying for 1 ticket bumping it open and letting 10 of your buddies in ? no alarm went off as he went out the door...why is that ? but yes do belittle the deaths of those in the Co shooting by holding guns accountable and not the fools who used them wrongly

    August 9, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. to cali girl

    cali girl i love you, but in cali you ain't gettin no AK47 from a gun shop. Move to Alabama, Texas or New Hampshire. Here in CT we can get the smaller AK 74, but I went with the AR15. 30 round mags still legal for now in CT.

    August 9, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Pumaman

    I thought the majority shouldn't tell the minority what to do. Isn't that the liberal mantra ? Gay rights & marriage come to mind. I will never part with my guns. Once I do the Bill Maher's and R. Maddow's will be telling us what to do like Stalin.

    August 9, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Oh Boy

    I demand under my freedoms, that the law be chanaged so that I cank hunt deer with a tank. I couldn't care less what you think.

    August 9, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Person of Interest

    I'm a firearm owner (and an avid Democrat) and I have no issue with registering my rifles and pistols. People that worry about a complete ban and "them coming for my guns" are ignorant of the issue. Too many people own firearms in this country and would be unwilling to peacefully give them up. Within two blocks of my house we have a 40 yr Old former Force Recon, 1 former PJ, and 2 Army Pathfinders. For one of our houses you'd need a SWAT team, for all of our houses you'd need the entire police force (oh yeah two of them are police officers). And besides Scott AFB there isn't a military base for over 100 miles so I can safely assume (especially with two wars going on for 10+ years) that this is a similar mix in most neighborhoods across the country.

    They ain't taking your guns. Registering makes sense, what happens if some guy goes mental and starts beating his wife in drunken rages. I'd want the cops to know if he has firearms. I'd also want them taken away. You can't control yourself you shouldn't be allowed to use one anyway.

    August 9, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Robert

    ooooooh, 6000 rounds – he must be up to no good (except that a person can go through 6000 rounds in a good weekend at the range).

    Flag anyone buying so many rounds – except that purchasing things that are completely legal isn't against the law. And Governments usually don't have a very good track record of what it does to people who they start keeping lists of, do they?

    eeek, ban scary guns because I'm too ignorant to educate myself on them. All "semi-automatic" guns should be banned (even though this includes revolvers, you know, those 6-shooters you see in Westerns, certain hunting rifles, certain shotguns, and yes, hand guns).

    Bend over backwards to throw away your liberties & freedoms because you don't trust 99.9% of your fellow citizens. Talk about paranoid!! At least I trust that the vast, vast majority of gun-owners are honest, law-abiding citizens who wouldn't look to hurt you with their scary guns.

    Keep giving away your freedoms to the Government... yep, that ALWAYS works out well in the end (rolls eyes)

    August 9, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    I would like our so-called liberal President to weight in with more than ambiguous words and caring speeches. Something like specific calls to action like a leader should.

    So far Obama and Romney are recommending the same thing: Nothing.

    August 9, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. i12bphil

    People who think the public should not have arms do not understand the 2nd amendment in the slightest or why it was put there. It was not intended for some day long ago and now we no longer need it. It is for a day in the future when we do. A day where the country's own defense lies with the citizens or one where the government has become so oppressive that it must be removed.

    August 9, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. JamesGOLDBond

    Q: Will you continue a reasonable discussion towards an end that might lead somewhere or is this an exercise in futility?
    A: Since what you consider to be reasonable isn't even in the same plane of reality with what I consider reasonable, probably not.Allow me to explain.I hear a lot about "compromise" from your camp ... except, it's not compromise.Let's
    say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS"
    written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say,
    "Give me that cake."I say, "No, it's my cake."You say,
    "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of
    this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."I say, "No, it's my cake."You
    say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I
    get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.So,
    we have your compromise - let us call this one the Gun Control Act of
    1968 - and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.This
    time you take several bites - we'll call this compromise the Clinton
    Executive Orders - and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always
    been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.Then we
    compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and
    Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the
    School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing
    Freyja, my finger!)I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a
    large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY
    CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and
    wondering "why we won't compromise".I'm done with being
    reasonable, and I'm done with compromise. Nothing about gun control in
    this country has ever been "reasonable" nor a genuine "compromise".

    August 9, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Pumaman

    I thought the majority shouldn't tell the minority what to do. Isn't that the liberal mantra ? You will never get my guns... I don't care how many people get hurt. My enabler to say no to leftist socialists.

    August 9, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    I see the point of gun ownership in the Constitution not as a means to defend ourselves against robbers, thieves, and dangerous people; but as a way to defend ourselves against the Government itself. It's just another form of checks and balances. The government cannot do whatever it wants because it knows the people have weapons and can/will defend themselves. You need only look at recent events to see that governments do not always defend the minorities, and that in times of crisis things can get out of control. Why didn't the United States allow slaves to own guns? For fear of uprising. All it takes in a group of tyrannical leaders to get into office and America could be another Bosnia. I especially fear that with the neo-conservative movement that is sweeping across the country, anti-immigrant, mono-theological, environmentally unsound, and trigger happy. I feel safer knowing that a diverse population is holding weapons and willing to defend those who would be expelled or misplaced if catastrophe happens.

    August 9, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. keeeleee001

    There is no easy fix on crime.

    August 9, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. HA25

    @Wire – can you post that kind of lie and still consider yourself a moral, truthful person?

    When you were young, FDR or Truman was office. No threat to ownership of guns then. Now, if the NRA allowed guns to be banned – what do you think would happen to the NRA? Seems to me they have been drawn into the politics not the other way around.
    Having said that – they do not advocate for what you say, and still invest $$$ in safety.

    August 9, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. DavidW0909

    Hang on a minute people, there are over 200,000,000 legally owned guns in the US. If it were that big of a problem then there would be law abiding citizens out murdering people on a daily basis. While cases like James Holmes and Wade Page whom did obtain their guns legally are nothing more than aberrations, the real problem with gun violence in this country does not come from legal gun ownership, it comes from dangerous and often violent people who already have felony arrests and obtain a gun illegally and go out and commit murder. Does the fact they aren't supposed to have a gun mean they won't get one? NO! Do you think that if all legal gun ownership were banned that they would not be able to get their hands on a gun? NO! WHY? Because cocaine is illegal and it doesn't seem to stop drug dealers or users from obtaining it so do you think that if all legal gun ownership was banned that there would be a decrease in guns in the US? NO! Do you think that if there were a total ban on all gun ownership that these same criminals are going to say "Well, these normal citizens with all those electronics are no longer armed so I think I will just turn over a new leaf and stop my criminal ways"? OF COURSE THEY WON'T SAY THAT!!!!! They will be MORE emboldened and what you'd get is a black market for guns and people, regular law abiding people, would be out there buying guns illegally. What sort of a drain on law enforcement is that going to have? MASSIVE! Then we'd have illegal drug dealers and illegal arms dealers and while there already are illegal arms dealers NOW we'll have MANY MORE! Banning Guns? GREAT IDEA? DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! NO!

    August 9, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. StandForTruth

    I don't think the average Harry Homeowner would mind giving up his assault rifles if he could be totally assured that ALL the criminals don't have any either. I'm pretty sure that's what the contention is.

    August 9, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. truth4all

    and what no one seems to stop and think about... isn't unemployment already high enough ? without adding the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Firearm industry ? and ban guns because people think game hunting is just for fun .its a tax income for the govt since you have to purchase license to hunt, plus the taxes they get on the firearms and ammunition ...not to mention the wildlife control aspect unless you like people dieing in accidents because wildlife runs unchecked

    August 9, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Hindu

    The truth is - Guns are a big business and NRA is nothing more than a trade group protecting that business. They are not that concerned about 2nd amendment which is mostly out-of-time and out-of-place in today's circumstances. However, the 2nd amendment is quite convenient for NRA to hide behind on in this issue so the gun manufacturers can keep selling guns and make money. Actually, it is all about big money, special interests and lobbyists. The rest is all just lies that need to be told to continue this business and a few gun massacres each year are just collateral damage - unavoidable human cost of doing business and making profits. Anyone who thinks this is about taking a principled stand is deluding himself.

    August 9, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Loki

    I think I'll just keep my guns. Libs....You can use post-its and emails for your self defense requirements.

    August 9, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. DavidW0909

    Hang on a minute people, there are over 200,000,000 legally owned guns in the US. If it were that big of a problem then there would be law abiding citizens out m_rdering people on a daily basis. While cases like James Holmes and Wade Page whom did obtain their guns legally are nothing more than aberrations, the real problem with gun violence in this country does not come from legal gun ownership, it comes from dangerous and often violent people who already have felony arrests and obtain a gun illegally and go out and commit m_rder. Does the fact they aren't supposed to have a gun mean they won't get one? NO! Do you think that if all legal gun ownership were banned that they would not be able to get their hands on a gun? NO! WHY? Because cocaine is illegal and it doesn't seem to stop drug dealers or users from obtaining it so do you think that if all legal gun ownership was banned that there would be a decrease in guns in the US? NO! Do you think that if there were a total ban on all gun ownership that these same criminals are going to say "Well, these normal citizens with all those electronics in their house are no longer armed so I think I will just turn over a new leaf and stop my criminal ways"? OF COURSE THEY WON'T SAY THAT!!!!! They will be MORE emboldened and what you'd get is a black market for guns and people, regular law abiding people, would be out there buying guns illegally. What sort of a drain on law enforcement is that going to have? MASSIVE! Then we'd have illegal drug dealers and illegal arms dealers and while there already are illegal arms dealers NOW we'll have MANY MORE! Banning Guns? GREAT IDEA? NOOOOOOOO!

    August 9, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Gary

    As wrong as it is, it has been stated over & over by anti-gunners that the 2nd Amendment only guarantees a person’s right to possess long rifles for the sake of “traditional” hunting. It is utterly ridiculous to think the founders of the Constitution intended such exclusionary reasoning. Really? A revolutionary war just ended, where ordinary citizens took-up arms against their own government . . . and the intent of “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” is to guarantee a person’s ability to hunt, and (as some also advance) with antiquated firearms? NO! The obvious and only logical intent of the 2nd Amendment is to ensure that people possess the ability to defend themselves personally and against tyranny, as may be necessary at any given time. Would the founders expect such defense to be possible over time only with muskets? NO! That is also ridiculous. Personal defense must keep pace with technology. As continuous improvements are made to weapons of fire power for the military, so they must keep pace with weapons available to the citizenry (such as “AK-47”, “AR-15”, etc.). The ability to form a well-regulated militia, should it be necessary, is only possible if it can be armed with implements suited for comparable confrontation. The ability to bear arms as well as to keep (i.e., possess) them also clearly demonstrates intent to be prepared for ones defense anytime, anyplace. As stated on bumper stickers, banners, etc., the 2nd Amendment is America’s original homeland security. Gun control has never worked, and never will. So-called gun-free zones are fantasy. Remember . . . when every second counts, the police are just minutes away.

    August 9, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Independent

    Here is the truth - Guns are a big business and NRA is nothing more than a trade group protecting that business. They are not that concerned about 2nd amendment which is mostly out-of-time and out-of-place in today's circumstances. However, the 2nd amendment is quite convenient for NRA to hide behind on in this issue so the gun manufacturers can keep selling guns and make money. Actually, it is all about big money, special interests and lobbyists. The rest is all just lies that need to be told to continue this business and a few gun massacres each year are just collateral damage - unavoidable human cost of doing business and making profits. Anyone who thinks this is about taking a principled stand is deluding himself.

    August 9, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Norm

    Well you can do all the polls you want.
    My guns aren't going anywhere and when I leave this world they will be passed down to my kids.

    August 9, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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