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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ohio voter

    cm--well said!

    December 19, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Ian Soce

    IF they take away the Second Amendment what STOPPING them from taking away the First Amendment or the Fourth Amendment.....

    think about it..... FIGHT FOR YOURE RIGHTS.... DONT GIVE IN....

    December 19, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. More BS

    More misleading information from CNN. They combine people who want bans and restrictions in the same group. Typical left wing media.

    December 19, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. aesculapius

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -Benjamin Franklin

    December 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. BS aritcle

    "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure". It all depends on where the samples are drawn and do they represent all states? If you take a survey in San Francisco or Newtown, Conn, is going to be very different from the rest of the states. I say 80% of this country would conclude a "piece of plastic with a piece a steel without a will of itself" did not commit murders.

    December 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. scoobs

    this will not make anyone safer. it will simply pacify people as a backlash to a terrible tragedy

    December 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. government cheese

    The gallup poll is very different.

    December 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Darrell Birck

    Got to love CNN...they will drag up a poll on anything..."major gun restriction"...I would say CNN should be ashamed of itself...but we are well beyond that point...whoever and whatever agenda CNN serves...CNN is clearly dedicated to it...I just hope they can live with what they get...this world is no game and they treat us all as sheep and they try to herd us in their direction...

    But for the few sane readers left...keep in mind...all these networks no longer chase the truth...the chase the almighty $$$$.

    I for one am done with this website...

    December 19, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. dewster2

    If the liberals in the major cities want to ban gun ownership within the city limits so be it. They can be the guinea pigs for this new law just don't force everyone else to disarm themselves.

    December 19, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. x1235x

    Check it out. The gun massacres occur in Blue States. Columbine, Amish Schoolhouse, Aurora Theater, Portland, Oregon, and now Connecticut. All upper-class, spoiled rotten rich kids. No toothless hillbilies from the South.

    December 19, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Not the whole story

    There are other polls that go the other way and that also call for addressing mental health concerns, our culture of violence, and gun control issues comprehensively.

    December 19, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. Dirtyheat

    In order for gun laws to matter you need to actually enforce the laws, which doesn't happen now, what makes you think adding more laws will make any difference?

    December 19, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Francis

    Alert to CNN. You skew your data by taking a poll this close to an emotional event. The results are inaccurate, and the polling un-scientific

    December 19, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. Banning Guns will not solve the problem

    Banning guns will not solve the problem. We need to address the real issues of this problem. The issues are mental health and gangs and drugs. Because you can ban guns but good luck too you when you try to make gun owners give them up. I am a member of a family that had a brother murdered and I have given this more thought than most. I also don't have a problem with gun ownership. If we do not solve the main issues of this problem we are wasting our time. and it going to take all of us to fix this problem. I also wonder how you can say a majority of Americans are for new laws when your poll numbers are so low.....

    December 19, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. The REAL Truth...

    @Joe – People need to realize that the problem is NOT guns. Banning guns will do nothing. And besides. there is NO way to get all guns off the streets. It just will not happen. Guns do not kill people....PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.
    -------------------------------------
    Actually Joe, the problem IS guns. Guns DO kill people – or at least their discharge does. I never killed anyone by pointing a finger at them and pulling the trigger. Banning certain types of guns IS the solution. if the penalty is stiff enough, or the incentive to give them up large enough (eg: 10% bounty premium on turning them in no questions asked) then it CAN happen, but we have to have the will to make it so.
    What if the next target is YOUR child, your brother, spouse, sister, aunt, uncle, father or mother? How would you feel then. Having a CHL would not help – unless you were there, and it might slow them down, but collateral damage would be bad. Think about it! How many people (including extensively trained professionals) MISS under duress???

    December 19, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Seattle Dem for Romney

    75 alcohol related deaths in the US each year shall we ban alcohol as well?
    The day the government gives up protection is the day i will give up my guns!

    December 19, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. John Maroney

    52% of Americans are over-reacting to this situation. This always happens, and now the 99% of legal gun owners that don't shoot children at schools are going to pay the price.

    December 19, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. dave836

    Lol. A poll of 620 people taken 3 days after a mass elementary school shooting?

    Nice job CNN...

    December 19, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. Sean

    #1 Welcome to the the 1st world America.. its about damn time you stop being a gun loving anti universal healthcare country.

    #2 A gun is a WEAPON it has no other purpose but to KILL. A baseball bat is used to hit a ball. A knife is used to cut rope/food/paper... A car is used for transportation. Yes any of those things CAN kill someone and be used for something other then its original purpose but a guns original purpose is to kill... that's it.. its the only use it has.

    December 19, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Darrell Birck

    Last thought...

    Interesting that more people are killed every year by drunk drivers...including kids and adults...and yet we are somehow "OK" with that, an event that we could draw a line in the sand with and stop...mandatory 5 years in prison if you blow positive on a dui checkpoint or charge...problem would go away in days...but "guns"...they must be controlled...only we don't know how...sad...

    please please please please please learn to think for yourself...

    December 19, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. Sean

    #1 Welcome to the the 1st world America.. its about time you stop being a gun loving anti universal healthcare country.

    #2 A gun is a WEAPON it has no other purpose but to KILL. A baseball bat is used to hit a ball. A knife is used to cut rope/food/paper... A car is used for transportation. Yes any of those things CAN kill someone and be used for something other then its original purpose but a guns original purpose is to kill... that's it.. its the only use it has.

    December 19, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. CNNObamasPet

    CNN Poll = Joke

    December 19, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Schapkj

    The key to any survey is how questions are worded. By being as general as possible, as this survey apparently was, the survey creators can get responses that support the answer they want.

    December 19, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. KL

    Jordan, head back to that stats classand learn to read a chart. It is two different questions, 37% favor major restrictions, 15% say guns should be illegal. That's 52% favoring one OR the other.

    December 19, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. Black Seven

    I see Alcohol and Drug prohibition worked out great!!!!! We got Al Capone, and the Mexican Drug Cartels, and people can still buy drugs on almost every street corner in Chicago. So tell me, exactly how well do you think gun prohibition will work out again?

    December 19, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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