Poll: Gun control that Americans support
January 14th, 2013
03:39 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Gun control that Americans support

Washington (CNN) - One month after the deadly shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut, a new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans support a number of gun control proposals. But the survey points to wide partisan, gender, and educational divides over some proposals.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, 85% of the public backs making private gun sales and purchases at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support across party lines. And the poll indicates that 80% favor laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support from Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.

The poll's Monday release comes one month after 27 people, including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, were killed in Newtown, Connecticut by a gunman, who then shot himself to death.

Two-thirds of people questioned in the survey say they support creating a federal database to track gun sales, but there's a partisan divide, with 84% of Democrats and only 49% of Republicans favoring the proposal.

Fifty-five percent favor a ban on assault style weapons, 54% back a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, and 53% support a ban on on-line ammunition sales, but again there's a wide partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans on these proposals.

According to the poll, nearly two-thirds support putting armed security guards or police in more schools, but only four in ten say arming more teachers and school officials with guns is a good idea.

By a 51%-45% margin, Americans say it's more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights. This is virtually unchanged from Pew poll that was conducted in the days following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.

Men are divided on this question, while a solid majority of women say it's more important to control gun ownership. There's also a sizable gender gap over a ban on semi-automatic weapons, with two-thirds of women supporting such a move and men divided.

The survey also highlights an educational divide. Fewer than half of college graduates support a proposal to put armed guards or police in more schools, while three-quarters of those with no more than a high school education favor the idea.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted January 9-13, with 1,502 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

Filed under: Gun rights • Polls
soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. dreamer96

    The NRA became scared after Britain began tightened gun ownership laws in 1988. 1996..and on, and look at how many modern nations have gun control laws..and are paranoid....So how do you tell them they can still own a gun for self defense and protection, for hunting, sport shooting, but we need to make changes to keep the bad guys and crazy people from owning a gun or getting access to guns..

    We have many laws on the books, but those laws have had their funding cut year after year by the GOP and the NRA controlled members in Congess....It is ironic some in the NRA always say use the existing laws..but will block the funding needed...and will not close the second hand sales of guns without background checks...We have the gun show loop hole where many states do not require a waiting period, or background checks,..and the personnel sales of guns that do not require a background check...

    January 14, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. J Robinson

    @sifto What are "liberal polls"? Isn't a poll a poll? What would be a non-liberal poll, for example? I think I might have one in my back yard. It broke in two during the last storm.

    January 14, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Until the MSM starts talking about "gun safety" instead of "gun control," then it is clear that they are simply supporting the NRA and biased in the extreme.

    January 14, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It sure would be nice if the ATF had a director!!!

    January 14, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Tim Gray

    Guns laws exist already to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns. There have not been funding cuts to the gun laws. The ones in place now the NRA fully supports. Gun laws are much like drug laws however, a waste of time and money and manpower. Too many guns already illegal make their way here via russia and other countries and it won't stop. AK-47's are 10 times more powerful than any AR-15 and they are readily available for sale here in the US for cheaper than an AR-15 and on the black market. You guys live in dream land if you think any law will have any impact whatsoever.

    January 14, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. stev

    Hey boo, im a gun owner and dont hunt. Why kill anything. I shoot paper. I love how the anti gunners are ok with killing animals, but target shooting is not ok. My ar-15 destroys paper, not living things

    January 14, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    The right wing and the NRA leaders care nothing about what the people thinks. Kinda like Congress. As in every other case, FOLLOW THE MONEY and the fetid smell of rank, special interest politics.

    January 14, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Nathan

    The 2nd Amendment does indeed say, "...The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." But there's a bit that comes right before that, the meaning of which matters to this debate The full text reads, "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." People interpret this in a variety of ways, so my interpretation may well be wrong, but it seems that the framers intended for the armed citizenry to function as a national defense, and since that role is filled by our professional military, maybe the unrestricted ownership of weapons not envisioned by the framers might be the wrong way to go.

    January 14, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Collin

    What happened in Ct. was a tradgedy, but my question is what defines mentally ill? What if you are diagnosed with something like depression so you get help and manage it with medication. Are you permanently on the no buy list? Also, how do you prevent someone who is nuts but has never been diagnosed from still acquiring a gun? Alos, if you only allow police and military to have semi-automatic weapons, then only the police and military will have them. Regardless of who you are, corruption, while unlikely, is possible. There are a lot of what if's here, and if people go and give up their rights in the name of "safety", they generally are very difficult to impossible to get back. Be careful what you wish for....

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Ben Franklin

    People need to take responsibility for themselves and this society needs to remove barriers to getting treatment for mental health issues.

    January 14, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. dreamer96

    Year ago in California the Emergency Response Groups wanted a medical identification system so they could treat the victims of car accidents out in the desert faster, and better...the Hospital Emergency Groups wanted this too ...but fears of medical records being disclosed or medical conditions being used against people became an issue and some called it the big bad government invading our personnel privacy ..Funny many private owned and run companies have topped up that do the same thing..give you a medical records card to carry in case you are in a accident..then the medical teams can get access to your medical records, any drugs you use or medical history problems...But that is voluntary and you pay for it...

    January 14, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Kentucky Burbon

    It's obvious that in the sad case of Sandy Hook; we have a man, that stole weapons that didn't belong to him, and went on a sensless killing spree. Now; If his mom didn't have the guns in her home, who's to say that he would not have went and stole gun's from somewhere else. This issue is not guns (I dont own a gun) the issue is this culture of Murder being the way problems are solved. No, Know one needs a magazine that hold's 100 rounds, but the Leaders of the country need to get away from political issues and hot buttons and solve the problem of murder in this country

    January 14, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. bob

    We don't let just anybody have nuclear weapons, so clearly a line has to be drawn somewhere between NO weapons and ALL weapons... Given that so many weapons are getting smuggled to Mexico which is helping to wreak havoc on both our countries and economies, I would think that fact might have to affect the discussion...

    January 14, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Tim Gray

    Special interest politics go both ways Gary. In this case, the NRA is like a law firm representing me from the government.

    January 14, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Nathan

    @stev: An AR-15 destroys whatever it's pointed at when you pull the trigger. You're a responsible gun owner, and good for you. But to say that therefore everyone should be able to own an AR-15 doesn't really follow...

    January 14, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. rs

    Interesting data. So where will Congress fall? On the side of murdered children, or the rights of those who kill? The pessimist in me says the NRA's money will win and Republicans will support the "rights" of the gun, and the industry to sell guns to whomever they damn well please.

    January 14, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Angel

    Why do we never see discussion of the words 'well regulated' militia? Isn't what we're talking about 'regulation'?

    January 14, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Sounds like Obamanation is running towards an executive order so all this polling and conjecture maybe pointless"

    The things Obama has atlked about in terms of an executive order are things like revampping and improving our ability and the manner in which we collect data on gun violence so we can better understand and address the problem, which would clearly be a constitutional exercise of executive authority. Those of you daydreaming about getting impeachment hearings in response to an executive order need to calm down and take your Zyprexa.

    That being said...yes, we know...even responsible, rational, appropriate measures such as that make you insanely angry because the last thing you want is more data and, particularly, more accurate data being generated to disprove your gun fetish silliness.

    January 14, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Collin

    @Boo – I enjoy target shooting at a range – what is wrong with that?

    January 14, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Tim Gray

    Nathan, the founding fathers all sounded off on what the 2nd amendment meant. They all clearly say it's the individual's duty to have guns to protect itself from a tyrannical government that in the future may have a strong military.

    January 14, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. rapierpoint

    Am I missing something? The survey polled 1502 people. 403 Republicans, 473 Democrats, and 557 Independents. What are the other 69 people?

    January 14, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Collin

    @Boo – some people simply like to collect them – they put them in a case and never fire them – what is wrong with that?

    January 14, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. billorights

    How about we ban the right for the media to spout anything and everything they want in order to push an agenda. These articles are slanted toward removing a right of the American citizen.

    I think it's about time that the media stop enticing and influencing public opinion and that America remove their right to free speech.

    January 14, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. dreamer96

    Tim Gray

    The real offense in Phoenix Arizona committed by the ATF office was building their own computer database of gun buyers and the gun serial number each buyer picked up....You say the existing gun laws are okay....The ATF had a list of 29 buyers that had bought over 650 guns in just months, have video of gun sales in Home Depot parking lots and still did not have enough evidence to stop the straw gun buyers from selling guns to anyone with enough cash.....

    Why does the NRA work so hard to make it so easy for anyone to get a gun....2,000 guns each day are smuggled out of Arizona each day and into Mexico...and who in Mexico needs that many guns?.....

    January 14, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. John Illinois

    BS....quit polling only liberals

    January 14, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Terry

    464 school age children were shot in Chicago in 2012. Where is that outrage?

    January 14, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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