January 16th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN/Time Poll: Slight dip in support for gun control measures in last month

Washington (CNN) – There is strong support from Americans for many of the proposals to curb gun violence that President Barack Obama announced Wednesday, but according to a new national poll, public support has slipped a bit when compared to surveys taken immediately after last month's mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

A CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll also indicates that Americans generally favor stricter gun control and think that it is too easy to buy guns in this country, but they don't believe that stricter gun laws would reduce gun violence all by themselves.

The poll's Wednesday release comes a few hours after the president proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence in the wake last month's massacre, where a suicidal gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the survey, 56% support a ban on semi-automatic guns, but that's down from 62% in a CNN poll taken in the days after the shooting at Sandy Hook. The same is true for a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips - 62% in December, down to 58% now - as well as a requirement for all gun owners to register their firearms with the local government - 78% last month, down to 69% now.

"Those changes are likely due to the passage of time, as the initial shock of the Newtown tragedy has begun to wear off, and may indicate why the White House has put the gun issue on a fast track," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates Americans are evenly divided on restricting ammunition purchases, but they strongly favor background checks at all levels - 92% want them at gun stores, 87% want them at gun shows, and 75% favor background checks even for person-to-person transactions between individuals.

Attitudes toward Obama's gun proposals vary widely in many key demographics. It's not surprising that Democrats strongly favor and Republicans strongly oppose the President's gun initiatives. But there are gender and generation gaps as well. Two-thirds of women, for example, favor a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, while a majority of men oppose such a ban. Support for that proposal is nine points higher among people over 50 years old than it is among younger Americans. Those patterns repeat on many other gun proposals.

The poll indicates that the landscape is shifting on both sides of the debate.

"Gun control supporters may feel more strongly about the issue than in past years, but the attitudes of gun owners have also shifted," adds Holland. "A majority of Americans who live in a household with a gun now say that the federal government is trying to take away their right to own a gun; in the 1990s, a plurality of people in gun households didn't see it that way."

According to the poll, personal security is also a growing issue. In the 1990s, most people in gun households said that they owned a weapon mostly for sporting purposes, with only one in five saying their guns were for protection from crime. Now, the number who say their guns are mostly for protection has grown to nearly a third of all gun households.

The survey also indicates that 55% of Americans generally favor stricter gun control laws, with 56% saying that it's currently too easy to buy guns in this country. But only 39% say that stricter gun controls would reduce gun violence all by themselves.

"That's mostly because only a quarter of Americans say that the availability of guns is the primary reason for gun violence in the country. More Americans blame gun violence on popular culture or the way parents raise their children," says Holland.

That may also be a reason why a majority of Americans (54%-45%) favor armed guards in every school in the country although that proposal does not restrict guns in any way, and why a plurality (47%-40%) say that armed guards would do more to reduce gun violence in schools than stricter gun control laws would.

The proposal on guards in schools came from the National Rifle Association, and according plurality say that they generally agree with the NRA's positions. The gun rights organization has successfully fought against the passage of gun control legislation in Congress over the past decade.

"The does not mean that Americans agree with every position the NRA takes on gun control - polls have repeatedly and consistently shown high support for proposals the NRA opposes - but the poll does indicate that the NRA's overall approach resonates with many Americans," adds Holland.

The poll was conducted for CNN and Time Magazine by ORC International Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 14-15), with 814 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. john

    the new gun laws would not have stopped sandy hook. Adam Lanza's mother legally owned all her guns.
    So what is the background check going to be? Are they going to ask you if you have a mentally ill person or someone
    with autism in the home and you can't buy a gun? That is almost like eugenics. Listen, a home with a mentally ill person in it needs a gun for protection against home invasions.

    January 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Moose

    Thisis ridulious, bammans kids are protected by armed guards, so his kids are better than yours??? what he is trying to do is ruin this country any way he can, total hypocrite. guns good for me and my family but not yours ??? Using children that are deceased for political gain ??? this just aint right.

    January 16, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Richard Jamieson

    I came from Michigan where they have stringent gun ownership laws. In order to buy a gun, a person has to go to the local police department and have a background check done before they are issued a "permit to purchase". Once they get this permit they go and purchase the weapon having the seller fill out the permit. Then the new owner hast to take the gun and signed permit back to the police station for checking out before the registration is complete.

    January 16, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Richard Jamieson

    NRA has gone too far with their current ad on TV. Of course the President's children have "armed" secret service guarding them...That's National Security! To me, that's a low blow by the NRA which does not set well with me...I think the NRA will be losing some support over this...

    January 16, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. BobZemko

    If access to guns is curtailed, how will men with manhood issues over-compensate?

    January 16, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. luke

    Ugh, you can't project the opinions of 814 people to the 300 million people in this country.

    January 16, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. mjdkid100

    Moose

    Thisis ridulious, bammans kids are protected by armed guards, so his kids are better than yours??? what he is trying to do is ruin this country any way he can, total hypocrite. guns good for me and my family but not yours ??? Using children that are deceased for political gain ??? this just aint right.

    ----–

    Youre an idiot. I dont get 30 death threats a day and my family cant be used for major leverage in ransom. If you dont understand the difference between the presidents children and regular children, you should just get off the internet and back to playing your video games.

    January 16, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Lauren

    @Moose What's wrong with you? All Presidential families have always had protection. They are targets. They need it. Even if Obama didn't want armed guards protecting his children, he doesn't have a choice. Your comment is ignorant.

    January 16, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Obama

    So Obama can use dead children as pawns, but the NRA can't use his kids?

    January 16, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. David

    "With Great Power (Death) comes Great Responsibility (Protection of Life)" – Unfortunately not everyone understands that concept. Some only see the Power and not the Responsibility that comes with it.

    Thus the need for regulations. Because Great Power in the wrong hands may have deadly consequences.

    January 16, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. MaryM

    The NRA is becoming more extreme and more irrelevant. Are they really that clueless on national security.

    January 16, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Chris

    To anyone saying someone is attempting to compensate for somethuing. You are using a BS arguement and it holds no weight. Just because someone owns nice firearms, lifted up trucks, or sports cars....does not mean they are making up for something. Some people just enjoy those things. I as a man love all three. What's wrong with that? You come out and shoot my silenced AR15 and tell me you didn't have fun....

    January 16, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Archyle

    What a load of bollocks, you can skew any poll to get the result you want and they use it to try to make you think "wow, a slight majority of people think differently than me, maybe there is something wrong with me and I better get my thinking in line with thiers"

    January 16, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. Chris

    To anyone saying someone is attempting to compensate for something. You are using a non logical arguement and it holds no weight. Just because someone owns nice firearms, lifted up trucks, or sports cars....does not mean they are making up for something. Some people just enjoy those things. I as a man love all three. What's wrong with that? You come out and shoot my silenced AR15 and tell me you didn't have fun....

    January 16, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Larry

    CNN
    It is sad that CNN is not reporting the news but building news. First of all regarding polls, I typed polls on CNN Web Site and found none, only to read they was done by phone. Also regarding asualt rifles, we fail to mention where they come from and their function as regard what normal citizens get compared to the miltary version. News should be about facts rather than drama. Trying sticking to the facts. Lets face it, proably more our children kill others out on the roads from being cell phones and here is a fact; asualt rifles conribute to only 1/10 percent of crimes. Idiots with mental problems contribute to other percentage points. Aslo lets mention that Some of the high profile cities such as Chicago that has strick gun laws had last hear one of the highest of murders and most of them by hand guns??? Please reporting news not your polls and by the facts. And most all everyone always says the phrase (what most Americans wants) is in reality not based on facts bur merely by opinions of those with their own agenda which too often is false. Look for the facts in news and report the cause, not knee jerk emotions we see on TV. The bottom line I think you will find that most kids killing other kids is resulted to bad parenting, Where there children are taught their so called rights and left our teaching our children responsibilty to that of others. And most of all left God out of their lifes. Solution to problems with out children. Simply read the Bible to them! A very good book of wisdom.

    January 16, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Dr Steven F Dobrowolski

    I own sporting arms and know quite well how to use them. Forming plans for my annual Idaho Spring Bear hunt right now and putting in for tags in multiple western states. Gun Control is absolute necessary in this country at this juncture in time. Nobody for any reason should ever have military weapons. Note the distinction between “sporting arms” and “weapons”. Oh certainly someone may be readily killed by my antique 35 caliber 141 Remington, but it’s hardly the tool of choice. Despite the opinion of some, there is a civil society in the USA and there is no reason for ownership of weapons whose only purpose is killing other people. Go Mr. President go!!!!!! I’m a gun owner and stand behind you 100%. The NRA and its deluded followers do nothing but give descent gun owners a bad name.

    January 16, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Joshua

    "According to the survey, 56% support a ban on semi-automatic guns like the AK-47, " I'm sorry I forgot that Ak-47's are FULLY AUTOMATIC WEAPONS NOT SEMI-AUTOMATIC. CNN, can you please stop irresponsible reporting?

    January 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Nana Bowman

    We abuse our freedom by out of control behaviors on almost everything now.

    January 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Miriam

    I think the president's proposals are well thought out and will help to curb gun violence, but only in the long run because there are so many weapons out there. We have to start somewhere though. The sooner we get this done, the sooner the surge of gun ownership gets cut off, and the less likely we are to forget Newtown and the promise made to those grieving parents.

    January 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. merlin215

    What Americans ? God this CNN is so anti everything ... They want to swing the polls their way to show people and to sell their Name ... Cheap as no good journalism , just start and enquirer reporting ! I really widsh that they wold fgind out the truth before printing this junk ! All News fodder !!

    January 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Spenser Amadeus

    President Obama's children are protected (for good reason) by highly trained secret service agents. If school districts are required to hire armed security guards, they're going to be $12 an hour Barney Fifes and your children will be far less safe than they are now. And your taxes are going to go have to go up to pay for it. Want highly trained agents in the schools? They cost more and you taxes will go up even higher.

    January 16, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Truth Sayer

    mjdkid100:

    really, so the presidents children are more important than yours? i see that the communist ideology of "equality for all, but more equal for the people who regulate the people."

    January 16, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. jpmcmaster

    If most people agree that gun control won't solve crime by itself, and it being such a hot potato issue that sharply divides the country, then why don't we try all the other solutions that we mostly or all agree upon first? Just sayin (sorry had to throw that in there as I know it will irk some people)

    January 16, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. envisionprecision

    Umm, This "Poll" is really misleading. Kinda hard to ask what 300 million people think...also tidbit. Was it true that nearly half of all mass shootings took place with STOLEN GUNS. This completely deems these gun regulation motions useless other than the government making it easier to remove guns from law abiding citizens. Criminals will be criminals and break laws. If you wanted to really start regulating require gun manufactures to "record" the barrel "prints before they ever sell the guns. Then put that baby in a national database. Think of that. It will at the very least stem criminal behavor with a gun.

    January 16, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Hot Carl

    When the NRA uses Obama's TWO kids as examples, the White House and liberals cry "foul". But it's okay for Obama and his croanies to use the TWENTY dead kids to advance THEIR agenda? I think not. Therein lies the sick, twisted mind of the liberal left.

    January 16, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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