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. lerianis

    Need we say it again: there is no way in reality to keep truly mentally ill, dangerous people from having guns. If you give the police the power to dictate who cannot have guns because they are 'mentally ill', expect them to abuse that power.

    In reality, if you wanted to get rid of most of the gun violence in America, you only have to do one thing: legalize the drug trade. 90%+ of gun violence gone.... instantly.

    January 14, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  2. zzzzz

    The support is less than 1990s, when "Brady Bill" passed , and that law was full of holes...
    Very unlikely anything will change.
    Also it is not important how many want "gun restrictions", it is importnat how many of them will make it higher prioroty.
    The 50+%, that want restriction on guns, will not make it their first priority in election year, when NRA and gun supporters will.

    January 14, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  3. tg3043

    Odviously they didnt include that many gun owners in the polls. you asked 1,502 people out of a country of tens of millions across the country, and you called them? how many people pick up unlisted numbers? plus there margin of error is close to 3% meaning that 1/2 the country is against the proposed changes Nice way to hide all the important information about your research at the very end of the article and throw in a misleading headline claiming something that really isnt true to push your agenda.

    January 14, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  4. el rob o

    I've been delaying buying a gun until now! If tabloids or media channels are releasing names of gun owners, the last thing I want is for some thug to know that I DON'T have a gun! Buying one this week and I might as well join the NRA. I want to keep my freedom and I want to support those who help me.

    Oh yes, shouldn't we be banning violent video games and movies? Isn't that a serious concern?

    January 14, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. Sogladnca

    An assault weapon is called that because it's designed to commit the very crime that is named for; assault. I still think that assault is against the law. Lemme go to a gun show and buy a murder knife. A knife designed to commit murder would be outlawed just as assault weapons should be.

    January 14, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. Uncle Chan

    Would like to see a high capacity magazine clip. Have many guns, many magazines...some of them even high capacity. Even own several hundred clips. But never seen a high capacity magazine clip.

    I really wish CNN would just once report a story straight. The are every bit as bad as Fox.

    January 14, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  7. el rob o

    What if our government buys ammo all over the place and Adolf Obama decides to throw anyone who opposes him into jail? If not him, what if it's the next republican with all the power that obama set him up with, liberals would go nuts if a republican was doing the stuff obama is. Who will protect us?
    If the people fear the government, we have tyranny. If the government fears the people, we have freedom. The NRA is the ONLY thing keeping the government in check and people want to attack the NRA? Who are the crackpots, I ask?

    January 14, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  8. Uncle Chan

    In order for thete to be background checks for private sales, all guns would need to be registered. Good luck with that.

    January 14, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Chick

    I absolutely do NOT support any further gun control legislation. You cannot regulate irresponsible actions of irrational people, through gun control. Anyone that thinks you can has an IQ below 68.

    January 14, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  10. Libertarian

    I wonder why they made special distinctions in how people voted based on their educational levels... Ah... sure, to make it seem like the uneducated masses are the ones supporting guns... you know the redneck stereotype... Ah, the impartial Pew Center and the venerable CNN intelligentsia... why am I not surprised. Far be it from them to call on the hypocrisy of the Hollywood anti-gun celebs who made a fortune infusing decades of thousands of films into your people in which they glorify gun violence....

    January 14, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. NoTags

    Poll results can be controlled by the EXACT question asked. Unless you have a copy of EXACTLY how a question was asked, you cannot ascertain the validity of the referenced poll. I could make a poll, and make the poll results come out any way that I wanted, simply by how I phrased a question.

    I would be willing to bet that if you asked the respondents to correctly define an assault weapon, 50% or more would be unable to provide a correct definition.

    January 14, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. mtbe

    JW, You may be a conservative and a gun owner, but it doesn't sound like you know very much about weapons. If I was allowed to buy military weapons, then I agree with your statements. but I'm not. I'm allowed to buy a small caliber semi-automatic rifle. Could this be considered a 'type of military weapon'? Sure, but so could every gun I have that shoots a projectile. Just because it looks like an assault rifle doesn't mean it is an assault rifle. and people do hunt with these rifles. They are popular for hunting small predators like coyotes.

    January 14, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  13. Iamnotfooled

    A bullet cannot distinguish between a gun owner or a non- gun owner. Or a Democrat or a Republican or Independent.
    It could be you or yours next. We need changes in the laws.

    January 14, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. Wes, CA

    Don't you unfeeling rights clingers understand that we have to "do something"??????

    January 14, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  15. Judge

    Actually, RS... Governor Cuomo of NY stated himself that confiscation is a possibility for his state if his legislation passes... Also, Sen Dianne Frankenstein has stated in the past, if she could have gotten away with taking every gun off the street, she would have done it. So yes, there are people in the government who would confiscate if given the opportunity, Gov Cuomo is thinking about it right now. Just because it isn't brought to light by every politician does not mean that they are not for it. You cannot possibly be foolish enough to believe that the politicians always tell us anything.. They are the most selfish and corrupt people in this nation!

    January 14, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  16. Judge

    So many of you are uneducated... The 2nd amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting... At all. It was created to protect the citizens from Tyranny. Not to hunt. Therefore, if your saying you do not need an AR 15 to go hunting and that it is not violating the 2nd amendment your argument is invalid. Go pick up a history book

    January 14, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  17. Judge

    Boo... Because every person deserves the RIGHT to defend themselves. And also, because we can. It is really that simple.

    January 14, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  18. Racemunki

    I find it kind of funny that the NRA folks never seem to "pipe up" when something tragic like Newtown, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, etc., etc., happen. It is only when someone starts to talk gun control that their voices go from quiet to screaming pitch. Put armed guards at schools? If I'm not mistaken, they do that at prisons. So, we should turn the nations schools into armed "education camps"? No one, including congress got serious because shootings like this happened to adults. Now, it has happened to a bunch of children and "as sad and pathetic as it is", the NRA (mostly) is putting up a grand fight. What has to happen next? Someone shooting up a hospital with newborns before anything truly gets done?

    January 14, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. Diane

    Amen. May be if the people in the NRA where shown pictures of those precious babies bodies it might be the only thing that would make them realize how ignorant they all sound about making sensible changes.

    January 14, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. Todd

    I own 17 guns, mostly hunting rifles and shotguns. I live in the middle of conservative high ground, Wyoming. I'm a former Army Warrant Officer, CW2, and a member of the NRA. I have to say I agree with background checks for ANY and ALL firearms sales or transfers. Personally I think I you want to own or operate a firearm you should have to get a license. You shold be willing to prove your worthyness and ability to handle and store firearms safely. I know that mone isn't the typical conservative veiw but thats how I feel on the subject. We are not as good at policing ourselves as we once were and something along these lines is going to have to be done

    January 14, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. DC

    The media is pushing for more unenforceable gun control laws, but the American public would prefer we actually do something constructive here. I support having security at schools like we do at malls or banks. Our children are worth AT LEAST that much!

    January 14, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. steve

    I would rather be turned in to a criminal than register my guns.

    Anyone remember when Adolf created a gun registration. the nazi's later went door-to-door and collected them from the law abiding citizens of Germany. Just ask the jews what it was like to have their guns taken away. the rest is history.

    January 14, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  23. steve


    Cuomo is calling for confiscation. His words, not mine. Sounds a bit radical to me. Can you say ADOLF.

    January 15, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  24. Huh?

    Who are the 20% of people who think the mentally ill should own guns?!?!?!?

    January 15, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  25. Brendan Perez

    You are all aware that gun sales at gun shows are not unique in anyway. There is no rule/law/regulation that allows, disallows, etc. any thing at gun shows.

    Dealers ALWAYS have to do background checks wherever and whenever they sell. Private individuals have never had to.

    Private sales being allowed without requiring paperwork is something that has always been allowed. The Congress in 1968 deliberately left along private sellers selling their collection and not in the business of selling firearms. Congress in 1993 chose not to touch private sales.

    These sales account for less than 2% of all 'crime' guns. This closing 'loophole' nonsense is a solution in search of a problem.

    This is a confiscation, it's just slow moving. If these firearms and magazines are really as dangerous as claimed (they're not), why allow anyone to keep them?

    January 15, 2013 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
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