CNN Poll: Bare majority now support major gun restrictions
December 19th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: Bare majority now support major gun restrictions

Washington (CNN) – Americans are reacting to the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut with elevated levels of anger, shock and fear that have led a growing number of people to look for action from the government and society that can prevent future incidents, according to a new national survey.

And the CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday also indicates that a bare majority now favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban on gun ownership by ordinary citizens and more than six in ten favor a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

The survey was conducted Monday and Tuesday, following Friday's horrific incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 young children and six adults.

Forty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say that that government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence. That's up 13 percentage points from January 2011, following a shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona that left six dead and some, including then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, severely injured. A 53% majority still believes that attacks will continue to happen regardless of any action taken, but that's down 13 points from January 2011.

"Any changes in attitudes towards guns and gun violence are likely due to the highly emotional reaction many Americans have had to the recent shootings," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

poll gun restrictions

Just over eight in ten express shock and anger over the events in Connecticut, with nearly half saying they feel fearful in response to the shootings.

"All of those numbers are much higher than they were in a CNN poll conducted in January, 2011, indicating that the tragedy in Connecticut may be affecting more Americans more intensely than other recent attacks," added Holland.

Does that translate into a call for greater restrictions on guns?

The number of Americans who favor major restrictions or an outright ban has typically hovered just under the 50% mark in recent years; now that number is just over 50%. According to the poll 52% say they favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal. That's a five point rise from a CNN survey conducted in early August, following the mass shooting in July at a movie theater in suburban Denver, Colorado that left 12 dead, and shootings two weeks later at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where six people were killed. The five point rise is within the poll's sampling error.

Forty-three percent say last Friday's elementary school shootings in Connecticut makes them more likely to support gun control laws, a 15 point increase from January 2011 following the Arizona incident. Half of those questioned say the school shootings have not changed their opinions on gun control, down 19 points from January 2011.

On specific proposals, the American public has had a clear and consistent position for years. There is nearly unanimous support for background checks and more than nine in ten believe that some people, such as convicted felons and people with mental health problems, should be prevented from owning guns. Nearly eight in ten favor gun restrictions laws and 62% support a ban on semi-automatic assault guns and also high-capacity ammunition clips. Fifty-two percent oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own.

poll gun newtown

The survey indicates the expected partisan divide on gun control. Nearly eight in ten Democrats say they favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban. That number drops to 42% among independents and 31% among Republicans. There's also a gender gap, with 41% of men saying say support major restrictions or an outright ban, with that number jumping to 62% among women.

The poll's release comes on the same day that President Barack Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an administration effort to develop recommendations no later than January for preventing another tragedy like last week's elementary school shooting.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International December 17-18, with 620 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll
soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. duane st.pete Florida

    hummm....can you say "civil war"?

    December 19, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Guns don't kill people....people kill people

    December 19, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Carol

    Let the hysteria begin.

    December 19, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Simon

    I don't think people realize they will just be killed like sheep without any means to defend themselves. Further...if you try to disarm the nation there will be many dead liberals because I'm pretty sure that would ignite a civil war...and liberals are taught to lay down and roll over.

    December 19, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Mark

    620 people represent all of America?

    December 19, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Tim

    This poll is retarded and to have asked only 620 people on a hot button topic right after an incident like this is an extreme bias due to the emotional state that people have.

    December 19, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Ancient

    Drugs are illegal. Has that stopped the major drug problem we have? NO! Better to keep something legal so we can better regulate it. Say hello to a country like Mexico, if we ban guns herer in the USA.

    December 19, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Jhonnypatriot

    oh look CNN publishing more false polls ..how interesting

    December 19, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. jojoduck

    considering the source of these polls and the people they are polling, most of the comments I read on various news articles this does not suprise me that CNN would come up with poll results such as this. I can say doing a poll in my workplace of about 30 individuals, we are 77% against weapons bans of any kind, but agree on restrictions. so SUCK IT CNN your POLLS are invalid!

    December 19, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. wang

    The survey indicates the expected partisan divide on gun control. Nearly eight in ten Democrats say they favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban. That number drops to 42% among independents and 31% among Republicans.

    Only slightly lib ta rd slanted!

    December 19, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. josetoyou

    This is probably the same bunch of ignorant idiots that voted obama in to a second term...

    December 19, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Tamara

    A poll of a whopping 620 adults? I'm sure there is some scientific formula that says this is the number needed for a representative sampling, but somehow 620 out of almost 315 million people seems a bit low to say its what the entire country is thinking.

    December 19, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. EatThemUpYum

    ORC International is a London based polling company, so I'm sure they're completely impartial given the UK's draconian gun bans. And is a sampling of 620 people statistically significant? 620 about of 300+ million Americans.

    December 19, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Anynonmouse

    Wait, it's a survey with a 4% rate of error taken from only 620 people? That means that the "bare majority" of 52% may in fact be a minority of 48%, and that's only if you really think that 620 "random phone surveys" can accurately measure the opinion of the entire voting populous...... STOP TWISTING THE TRUTH.

    December 19, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Tyler

    This statistic is in NO WAY accurate.

    December 19, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Awesome Journalism

    That poll was approximately 0.0002% of Americans. While I am a proponent of gun restrictions, I wouldn't call this poll statistically significant.

    December 19, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Bob

    The war on drugs has worked so good, let's do the same with guns.

    December 19, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. biglio

    About time the majority stops getting bullied by a raging lunatics vocal minority. We had enough. The gop was kicked to the curb and the gun nuts are going to even more.....let's take America back!!!!

    December 19, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. James

    Why don't you run the poll again in 1 month.

    Watch that number drop like a rock.

    December 19, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Pushover1234

    Mainly because of the distortion of statistics and the sensationalism over such heinous acts. FACTS show mass killings are DOWN from over a decade ago. But this is Chicago politics. never let a tragedy got to wast with politics. It is the Raum Emanual school of politics. You could kill 100 school kids with kitchen chemicals if you thought it out. It is the mindset that is the problem, not choice of weapons. Largest school killing in the us was from explosives in the 20's.

    December 19, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. sincedutch

    now its an outright BAN..... this is snowballing into something that is going to spin out of control.

    next thing.. gun owners will be put in jail... because Bans are what you do before you unjust jail innocent people.

    see the war on drugs for reference.

    Ban guns.. they become like drugs.. still on the black market.. still available for criminals.

    December 19, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    A week after 9/11 a majority of people favored greatly increased airport security. I thnk we all know that's no longer true. Conducting this poll so close to the event is asinine. Let's not govern the country with knee jerk legislation.

    December 19, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. EatThemUpYum

    This is journalism with a political motive, plain and simple. 620 out of 300+ million Americans is not statistically significant. Can ORC Int'l prove they polled from a variety of zip codes across the US that are a fair representation of its political makeup?

    December 19, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Madchadley

    We need a review of gun laws, and certainly there are concessions that need to be made to make our society safer, but God forbid the day this country outlaws guns entirely. Those that wish for that might as well wish for a totalitarian government. Maybe that is what they want?

    December 19, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Chuck

    52% of Liberals polled you mean

    December 19, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11