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. Tom

    The next GOP proposal for immigration reform will probably call for deporting the 85% of Americans who favor some form of gun control. Problem solved.

    January 14, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Tom L.

    I would recommend that you do a little research and see how many people are alive today because they had a gun to protect them. But why do that? Why let facts get in the way of your angry, disgusting and vitriolic diatribes you spew on a daily basis?

    January 14, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Collin

    @billofrights – agreed – which rights do we go after? After all, in a sense, free speech can also end up killing people. It is a slippery slope. I am still a supporter of personal responsibility and greater acces to mental heatlh care.

    January 14, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Swan

    The reality for the NRA is as long as their loudest mouthpieces on the Hill are Aging members of the GOP, we can hang on longer that them. This is about time and it is on our side not theirs.

    There is a great statiistic that a 5-17 year old kid in Philly hasa greater risk of death than a soldier in Afghanistan - by something like a factor of 10x. Though to ignore this and call yourselves amembers of civil society.

    January 14, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Scott S.

    It sounds like Nancy Pelosi must have explained to Obama what happened the last time the Democrats passed extensive gun control legislation, i.e., the 1994 mid-term elections. The rhetoric from the Democrats is much more muted than a few weeks ago.

    January 14, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. stev

    @nathan.....the ar-15 is one of the most widely owned rifles in the country. Semi autos are far more common for sporting\plinking and the .223 is MUCH cheaper to shoot than most hunting calibers. That being said, my m48 8mm mauser can accuratly reach out and touch someone close to 3/4 of a mile away, but the 223 looses it punch after aroun 300yds or so. Any gun in the hands of someone intent on doing harm is an assualt weapon, but the only assualt weapons, by definition, that are around are already out of the hands of civilians (selective fire weapons). You cannot go to a gun store and by an assualt rifle. What you can buy is a weapon that is one bullet per trigger pull. ALL civilian weapons do not go beyond that, as it would be illegal and manufacturers could not sell them to the public

    January 14, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. John Carver

    most of those 464 school age "children" in Chicago were in feuding gangs at war with each other. A few innocents are caught in the crossfire but not many,

    Put the gang bangers in prison for 10 years for their first felony offense with no probation or parol and 30 years for their second and Chicago murders will go down quickly

    January 14, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. joe

    I might add that the NRA has adamantly opposed these changes to gun laws, even against the wishes of their own membership. The members of the NRA had better demand replacements for the NRA leadership or the organization will continue to be marginalized and branded as 'extremist'.

    January 14, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. dreamer96

    Tim Gray

    You say the founding father wanted the citizens armed to defend against a tyrannical government in the future. but what was the present like in 1776...Remember this country had a small full time military and was surrounded by the British army in Canada, the French army in the Louisiana Territory, and the Spanish army in Mexico and farther west....So how do you know the founder fathers didn't just want a well armed citizenship that had their own guns and knew how to shoot, because we were surrounded by Nations with large full time armies..

    January 14, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. dorf

    To all of the gun owners – unless you hunt, why do you need a gun?

    Because I don't have police or secret service assigned to protect me and my family 24 hours a day.
    The problem with private sales background checks is how do you know they are happening? Please don't mention registration. The Supreme Court already ruled that anyone that cannot legally own a gun does not have to register it and cannot be prosecuted for not registering it. Check it out yourself.

    January 14, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. como1

    Once again some of you confuse the 2nd Amendment with only providing for a well regulated militia. Its placement in the Bill of Rights is a statement of a right granted to an INDIVIDUAL not the people, the state or some surrogate of the state. The phrase As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State: states: 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. See the little comma after the word state it delineates and enforces the right of the individual to own and carry arms...of all kinds no less. The Supreme Court has upheld this many times. So this silly notion that " 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" is the way the Amendment and ever legal interpretation since its ratification. Remove the individual's right to keep and bear arms and it is no longer an Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

    January 14, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. RandyIA

    to Nathan.

    I'm not an extremist, or a current gun owner, but who protects the people from the professional Military and the government. I think the phrase "free state" is just as important as anything else in that statement. I know that a 12 gauge shot gun has no chance against an F-22 or Abrahams tank. Also keep in mind that there was never supposed to be a professional military.

    January 14, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. JW

    As someone who is gun owner and spend 23 years in the Infantry (Army) I know of no good reason why anyone should own semi-automatic with extended clips. I have a lot of conservation friends that fell the same way. These weapons are for one thing only and it is not hunting unless you are hunting someone. I read where somewhere someone said some people golf, some people collect stamps, I collect guns. That is great but to collect these type of military weapons should require a lot more than the average back ground check. It also should be subject to in inspection at any time. You want own a military type weapon then you are subject to military type rules. Sorry but this is coming from a conservative, gun owner.

    January 14, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. David Reston, VA

    FACT: Authoritariana support gun control.

    January 14, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. keith

    2,000 guns each day are smuggled out of Arizona each day and into Mexico...and who in Mexico needs that many guns?.....

    ask obama, he was the one giving them away.

    January 14, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. Gary

    I chuckle when hear folks constantly blaming the NRA. It's not the NRA's fault – it's mine. Me, and millions of other gun owners, send money to the NRA so they can represent us. Corporate donations to the NRA come form corporations because, well, I spend money on firearms. So again, blame me. I also live in a district that is overwhelmingly pro-gun. So my representative, well, represents me and votes down attempts to infringe upon the 2nd amendment. Gun Grabbers fail to see that for now, there's a bunch of gun owners, and we vote at the polls and with our wallets. One more thing, for cryin out loud, stop calling them 'clips' and 'assault weapons'. That just tells me you're completely ignorant regarding firearms topics and not worth my time.

    January 14, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Sean Woods

    Low-information voters. Only two kinds of people support bans on "assault-style" weapons and federal gun registries...the ignorant, and the gun grabbers who don't respect the right to keep and bear arms to begin with. Until the media and politicians stop propagating the beliefs that semi-automatic rifles are military-grade machine guns and that they're more dangerous than pistols, you'll never have a rationally-informed electorate to poll on the issue.

    January 14, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Ohio Cop

    It used to be that radical liberals were quick to play the phony victimhood card. That trait totally belongs to the rabid neocons these days, and non moreso than these NRA zealots.

    They conjure up phony laments a about government tyranny and plots of national police coming in to carry away their simple sporting and self defense weapons. The reality is that they're advocating some sort of westernized version of Taliban tribal rule.

    We don't allow citizens to own bazookas and it's not a 2nd ammendment issue. We don't allow people to own and operate stinger missils, and it's not a 2nd ammendment issue.

    I don't know where the line in the sand needs to be drawn, but it certainly needs to be redrawn.Some military type weapons aren't legi for general public uset. We don't argue about bazookas. I don't know why we're arguing about 30-round magazines for pistols and rifles.

    The more they are produced, the more often they wind up in the hands of the criminals like David Koresh and Tim McVeigh or simply wind up in the hands of assorted mental cases that live among us.

    January 14, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. fernace

    The 2nd amendment is perfect in its wording & doesn't need to be changed! The problem is that the NRA & gun enthusiasts insist on "cherry picking" only the 2nd stanza of the sentence! Out of context, it would seem that Americans should be able to arm themselves, when & how much we want, w/out government intrusion! However, In Context there is a built in regulations clause! "A Well Regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people shall not be infringed"! That Whole sentence sheds a different light on our percieved notion of gunrights w/out regulation! 222 yrs ago it meant that this new nation would not be caught unarmed incase of invasion or any other threat to the security of the citizens! Today "well regulated" means just that! A dangerous weapon made for the purpose of maiming or killing, must be regulated! Since the gun crowd like to compare guns to cars, why not apply the same laws, restrictions & regulations as the DMV?! That would be a good place to start!!

    January 14, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. nothing new here

    I think everyone, and I mean everyone, that seeks to purchase a gun should undergo a complete background check. No more excuses.

    January 14, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. AlbertCan

    When are we going to stop all these crazy NRA members from going around capping people, look at all the killing in Nashville. We need gun laws like in Chicago, Washington dc,Detroit,don't you people see the destruction these NRA nuts are doing to our community? Whoa I feel better about my self.

    January 14, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. rs


    2,000 guns each day are smuggled out of Arizona each day and into Mexico...and who in Mexico needs that many guns?.....

    ask obama, he was the one giving them away.
    Neirther Obama or the BATF "gave" out guns. Those "lost" guns were legally purchased by straw buyers who in turn sold them, shipped them, or otherwise moved them to Mexico. That is what "Fast and Furious" was monitoring.

    This means it was Arizona's nearly non-existant gun laws, and questionable stores that were at fault- not the administration.

    January 14, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Ban Assault weapons , magazines that hold more then 7 rounds , stricter background checks , no transactions at gun shows.

    January 14, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. ben

    Why is it that every poll I saw until today morning said the total opposite of this poll?
    Banning assault style weapons 84% of the people said NO even here in NYC.

    January 14, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. ben

    Man these news people thinks the common men are so stupid to believe this, even when everyone has access to the internet nowadays

    January 14, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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