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. Wilson

    @Wake up People!

    I'm sure things look very different when you're sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office than they do from the Senate floor.
    Which provides another example of why Obama should not have been elected in the first place.

    January 15, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    Reality intruded on that theory. Washington, Hamilton and others wanted a large, professional military because they correctly saw the US as vulnerable to invasion. Ever read about the performance of militias in the Revolution and the War of 1812? Miserable failures, for the most part, except when the Civil War was fought. Who formed the nucleus of the Confederate Army? The militias, naturally. Militias in other countries have been effective only in terrorizing civilain populations: ask the people of Somalia and Bosnia what they think of militias. We have been a very successful experiment in democracy, so, unless people fail to vote and participate in our democracy, we will will continue to be successful. Surrendering to fear-mongering and violance will undermine our democracy, and that is exactly what the NRA and other fringe groups are doing.

    January 15, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  3. guest

    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.

    Goes to show that the more educated you become, the less common sense you have !

    January 15, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  4. Bubba

    "80% favor laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns".
    So 20% think the mentally ill should be allowed to buy guns? This poll was just stupid.

    January 15, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. Natrldiver

    Now I wonder where this poll was taken. Probably in the most liberal of areas like DC, New York and New England along with California. CNN would never do a balanced poll of the American people. I am sure that if they checked the conservative belt their results would be different. Oh wait CNN never reports unbiased information.

    As for the government's attempt to take the power away from the citizen, they are working harder than ever. If the liberal left and the idiots in DC get their way we would be disarmed so then they could enforce police rule. Our government needs to be afraid of its citizens but instead we the people have let the government get away dismantling our core values one by on.

    January 15, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. Don

    I live a few miles from Ft Bragg. I would like to challenge any of the NRA folks that think the government is going to take away their guns to gather and make a preemptive strike on the base. Lets see what courage these "real americans" have. The other option is the same onne conservatives gavve thre kids of the 1960's that feared their government. ..... leave now.

    January 15, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    We're going to close the gun show loop hole. We're going to have to have a central system for background checks. And if all of that means Johnny has to wait to get his gun, too bad. The Klingon survivalists can protest all they want. The People don't care for their hysteria and fanaticism, which has enabled far too many of these gun crimes.

    January 15, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Tom

    This is not rocket science. There are only 3 ways to go, do nothing at all and accept that losses will happen when psychos get their hands on killing machines. Restrict guns and large cap mags. Or, restrict people from these weapons by creating a licensing system that drug tests (including anti-psychotic meds), felony checks and psychological profiles.

    January 15, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Animal

    I don't know who these Pew Research people are, but I suspect that they are pretty particular about who they poll. It's unfortunate that some news media outlets like CNN have a tendency to be one sided bout some issues. A lot of these media outlets don't bring out facts in an effort to sway public opinion.

    January 15, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  10. VinUSA

    Look at the data guys. There is a very nice graph depicting gun ownership vs gun deaths in all countries in the world. Surprise, surprise: it's a straight line, with the US way up in the top right corner. There is a whole lot of underestimation of how opportunistic people really are: take away the opportunity to jump off a bridge, and they won't do it (this is a researched fact). Why would shooting others be different?

    January 15, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  11. Bob

    The so-called gun show loop hole is a provision in the law that allows residents of the same state to sell/trade long guns to each other without a background check. It has nothing to do with gun shows. People could just as easily use a newspaper ad or craigslist to set up a FTF (face to face) transaction. Any and ALL dealers at a gun show or anywhere else for that mater are REQUIRED to do the NICS background check before selling a gun to anyone.

    January 15, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. BioHzrd420


    Instead of just randomly poking holes, why don't you do some actual critical investigation on your part to see whether your statement holds muster. If you click on the highlighted link in the article, it takes you right to the study done by the Pew research center and, low and behold, you can find the full report, a transcript of the questions asked and the data. Granted they have yet to release some of the questions in full (which are to be released at a future date), but they definitely aren't hiding what questions they are asking. Any study or poll worth something will post its questions. I've even found the transcripts for CNN polls, though I doubt most commenters look that hard.

    January 15, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  13. BioHzrd420


    The question they posed was "Would you favor or oppose the following items about gun policy" One of the items was "Laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns"

    The poll itself is not stupid, nor is the question. It is simply a reflection of the opinion of the sample population. Maybe included in that pole was mentally ill people who want to keep their guns, family of mentally ill who oppose, or even a gun rights advocate that completely disagrees with any gun regulations. However, to simply shrug off the data and the poll as stupid and not take a hard look at why someone might have answered that way, is pretty ignorant itself.

    January 15, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  14. mm

    NY Gov. Cuomo wants to be President. All this is is windowdressing for 2016. His trying to look good for the left wing base. He won't even make it past the primary. These laws don't solve anything. The problem is cultural. Additionally, I see the media attempting to link Republicans with guns. This is a lie as some of the bluest states in the Union are also among the highest in terms of gun ownership. Wisconsin, Michigan Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania among others are extremely blue, union states in which democrats are the electoral majority and own guns. Final point, the 2nd ammendment was not established by our Founders for hunting. It was clearly established for protection. The gun debates also cross political lines. The Democrats may pay a price at the polls if they go too far with this stuff. As mentioned, democrats voters are gun owners as well.

    January 15, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. Oakspar77777

    If the 2nd Amendment is up for a simple opion poll vote, then we have fallen a long way as a country.

    Wasn't too long ago that some people (ACLU, NAACP) were saying that when it came to issues of human rights, majorities didn't matter. Rather that protecting the freedoms of the minority trumped public and popular opinion.

    I assume that they are still of that opion? Since your gun rights are garunteed human rights, given by God/Nature and only acknowledged by man, even if this poll is accurate – it doesn't matter.

    The right of the People to bare arms shall not be infringed. Considering the recent SCOTUS rulings (individual right, self defense, and weapons in common use at the time), I cannot image how any kind of AWB would not be overturned by the Court even if it did pass Congress.

    January 15, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. Steve

    What a joke! I implore those that read this comment to look at the full report of this. Click the link in the article and then look at the top right side under "Report Materials" click "Complete Report". You will find that there were 70 more Democrats than Republicans and 150 more Independants than Republicans. You will also find that over 300 more people that were interviewed were not gun owners. I wonder why the poll resulted the way it did. I would like to know why the sampling was taken as such.

    January 15, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. rs

    Seeing the news out of New York this morning, the NRA and the gun seleer lobby better think about putting on adult clothes and negotiating. If not, they are going to find it isn't the federal government that does in their precious rights of questionable people to carry around and own weapons of death, it will be the states.
    Flexibility would go a long way to looking more rational and logical than hair-on-fire-they're-taking-our-guns overheated rhetoric.

    January 15, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Bob, NY

    Knowing these guns are in the hands of citizens is what keeps politicians from taking all of them. They will not come after us with pea shooters! Knowing who is UN-qualified to own them is our best defense. HIPPA laws need to protect privacy, but not at the expense of other Americans. Do NOT punish those that are not a threat to America! Extremists on both sides need to sit down, breath, and use common sense as they figure out the best solutions. Is that possible in today's world?

    January 15, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. rs

    As of 1/13/2013, 836 Americans have died via guns since the Newtown Massacre.

    January 15, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Ratherbboating

    There is an old saying:
    Figures lie
    and liars figure.
    Where did they get this poll? Inside the WH?
    Not the same one that other networks are using.

    January 15, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Lonnie

    Just because gun safety and human morals are not taught at a young age does not give anyone rights to take our Guns in any way!!! Take the Crazy insane people out of Society and leave the tax paying american rights alone!! If you dont like the freedom of an AMERICAN, LEAVE! I have 6 Children and yes SAFTEY is #1 Priority but my LORD we take guns from "Good Guys" and were must safer?? Thats insane!! Hug a tree in another nation because this one is based on RIGHTS, I would have never Joined and risked my life in the United States Marine Corp for 6 years for a country to take my human rights!! Whats next?? Life of EXTREMEISM is no life at all!! Think about it! Nothing is ever perfect! God created us all in a very Unique way! Live with it, learn from the mistakes and go on about your life..

    January 15, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  22. Franky

    I'm sure things look very different when you're sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office than they do from the Senate floor.
    Which provides another example of why Obama should not have been elected in the first place.


    Considering every president would have the same view from the oval office, does that mean no one should be elected as president?

    January 15, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  23. Jeb

    Sales of NEW guns at gun shows are already subject to a background check - every gun sold by a gun dealer must include a background check. Only a private sale between a gun owner that already owns a gun and another individual in the same state is legal without a background check. What is being proposed (the 'gun show loophole') has nothing to do with gun shows. What the gov't is proposing is that any sale of a gun by a private citizen to another private citizen (I want to sell by grandpas shotgun to my brother in law) should be regulated and a back ground check should occur. The only way to do this is to take the gun to a licensed gun dealer and pay him to do the transfer and run the background check.

    I personally think this is not a bad thing because at least it will give law enforcement a tool to arrest and imprison shady people who sell guns to each other, however in terms of stopping gun violence it will do little. Only honest gun owners will follow the law and the shady will continue to ignore it.

    The press should stop calling this proposal the 'gun show loophole' because that is just covering up the true intent of the legislation.

    January 15, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. Lexl1019

    Way to cherry pick CNN!

    Never mind the starkly different results from the better known and more respected Gallup Poll (CNN and Slate notwithstanding) that claimed support for more gun control was at 38%.

    January 15, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Holly

    Yes by all means make owning an assault weapon illegal. All other's should remain legal. Our ancestors had no idea that man kind would or could invent such a weapon or they would have never made owning a machine gun a right. Remember the single shot musket. That is what they intended and that was to hunt for food not slaughter little children.

    January 15, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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