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. DocHollywood

    While I favor sensible gun laws and restrictions on certain firearms, banning guns outright will only make millions of citizens become criminals. Banning guns is not the answer, and restrictions and sensible gun laws are only part of the answer. Identifing mental health problems and giving people adequate treatment is another part of the problem. Requiring owners of guns to take classes and pass a test showing they know how to handle guns safely is another part of the problem. But nothing will eliminate people who are disposed to commit violent acts unless you can intervene in those peoples lives and problems.

    December 19, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Nick

    Is anyone here fluent in statistics? For proper polling to call this representative of the nation, one would have needed to poll over 1000 people, not 620.

    December 19, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Jeff

    After reading this article, I realized that in a couple weeks it won't be 2013, it will be 1776.....

    December 19, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Greg

    Hell I say Free guns for all! Raw Hide!

    December 19, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. peterz

    Gun restriction helped us to release our suppress.

    December 19, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Black Seven

    75% of Americans demand Obama's Impeachment. This poll is skewed. I can't wait to sue C N N for not reporting the facts.

    December 19, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    if people would stop letting mental people have guns it probably wouldnt be so bad . i work in a gas station and see quit a few guns come in and out my coworker told me that a lady i had just helped told her the day before was mentally unstable and the lady had a 5 or 6 shot straped to her hip we as clerks are not allowed to carry and i dont agree with that but i still agree with the right to bare arms

    December 19, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. BPettengill

    The term "Assault Weapon" is being used pretty losely these days. Course I guess it goes back to 1994 when the Clinton administration first passed the "Assault Weapons" Ban. Course what they didn't tell you is that an Assault Weapon has a Full Auto capability. To get it passed they called anything with a collapsable stock, capable of handling large clip capacities, along with a few other chatracteristic, but not Fully automatic, an assault weapon. But it served their purpose in drumming up public support. Much like the current Commission on Violent crime. Which will change nothing what so ever.

    December 19, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. EatThemUpYum

    Face it people, CNN only published this so that talking heads (Big O among them) can quote it. This is all politics and CNN is just a pawn pushing this bogus poll taken from an astronomically small section of Americans.

    Now, if the lefties will stop posing as right wing nut jobs we can all try to have a civilized and intelligent discussion?

    December 19, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. jake

    Only after politicians lose their children in this fashion will they soon realize the second amendment is a farce and subject to revision. Maybe thats exactly what this country needs. A crazy mo fo running through these elite private schools shooting up the sons and daughters of these politicians who refuse to take a stand against gun violence. If you won't take action to prevent the past from happening again then your future will be the more of the same. Whos children will it be next?

    Whos families will be destroyed when it happens again? And you can be rest assured it will happen again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again WHY?

    December 19, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Mark

    More CNN Government propaganda! Never listen to CNN.

    December 19, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Carlos

    Criminals do not follow laws- make all you want – the only people affected will be law abiding citizens

    December 19, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Bob F

    If they take away our right to bear arms, I would be MUCH more concerned about my personal and family's safety.

    December 19, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. pilotjon

    To perform an emotional-laden poll such as this within days of the event will be a bit off margin- If CNN did a poll the day after 9/11 asking if all people boarding an aircraft should be hand-searched, I am sure an overwhelming majority would have agreed.

    December 19, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. myviewis

    I think having full-time police officers in the schools protects kids and teachers more than adding more gun laws.

    December 19, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    For your information, they are not clips, but magazines !

    December 19, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. andrew

    Yeah, try to take guns away...after reading this mark me down for no gun restrictions.

    December 19, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. RK

    People who don't understand statistics probably don't think 620 is an adequate sample size. However, the sample was probably taken by professional pollsters who are very familiar with ensuring they have an adequate sample size from which to draw their conclusions .

    The people here who are using that tired old argument about people killing people and not guns just don't get it. It is the fact that guns are so readily available and are the first thing that many people turn to when they have a problem that leads to gun killings. If guns weren't so available, there wouldn't be so many gun killings. The US homicide rate by guns compared to civilised countries really says it all.

    December 19, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Daniel

    I served in the United States Marine Corps and own a gun which is always in a safe. The 2nd ammendment was written at a time when you had to pour gun powder and drop a doggon pellet in to your rifle. Had they known that you would have a military grade weapon that would be easily accessible, chances are there would be some restrictions around it. I am all for gun rights, however lets be reasonable and place these restrictions around assault weapons and educate gun owners on safety. Personally, I think that if you have a weapon and it's accesible by someone to do harm you should be held accountable for not having it under lock and key.

    December 19, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The day guns become illegal in this county it ceases to be the United States of America. It also will lead to the second American civil war."

    Yeah, whatever. No one is talking about banning all guns. If you can't live without your Bush Master then perhaps you've got a underlining paranoia issue you might want to have medically addressed. Sooner rather than later.

    December 19, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. Vanessa

    This was an INTERNATIONAL poll, what a bunch of crap. The majority of AMERICANS are pro-gun, period. This is a bogus survey and it is shameful that as usual CNN is pushing their liberal agenda in the name of "news".... even more shameful, people take it for face value and believe it!! We are re-living dark times in History and liberals don't want to admit it. I was telling people 4 years ago we would get a "gun control" speech from Obama, to all them saying I was acting hysteric.... well? What did we have today? And of course, it is based on ignorance and fear by people, in the name of "safety". We need to take a look at our society and realize that blaming an inanimate object is a scapegoat for personal responsibility.

    December 19, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Illuminati

    Gun don't kill. This is just a matter of violence over inteligence. People need to understand the mental state of all those around them, people are hurting inside but you can't see it. As horrific as this is it's less about guns and more about mental health.

    December 19, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Sheepleherder

    If guns are banned, it's not going to create criminals, it's going to create victims. The criminals already have their guns, why in the world would they surrender them. You would hope that any intelligent politician could intuit that much, but for some reason (or lack of same) they can't seem to grasp that simple fact.

    December 19, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. southernwonder

    actually, the real number is much higher than 52pct. they have not polled me.

    December 19, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Barry

    Hey Greg-#1-Who gives a damn what you believe! You say, 'I've since unsubscribed from CNN email alerts and gone to another source which is more reliable and truthful (FN).- You'r NOT interested in the TRUTH!, You'r just interested in finding 'someone-somewhere' who supports you'r pathetic ideals! Losers tend to flock together, so I'm sure you will find somebody to 'hug'!

    December 19, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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