CNN Poll: Support for stricter gun control fades
December 4th, 2013
01:38 PM ET
12 months ago

CNN Poll: Support for stricter gun control fades

Washington (CNN) - As memories fade from last December's horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a new national poll indicates that support for stricter gun control laws appears to be fading, too.

According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, 49% of Americans say they support stricter gun control laws, with 50% opposed. The 49% support is down six percentage points from the 55% who said they backed stricter gun control in CNN polling from January, just a few weeks after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a lone gunman killed 20 young students and six adults before killing himself, in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The poll's Wednesday release comes on the same day that 911 tapes from the Newtown shootings are being released.

Intensity fading

The survey indicates that the intensity of opinion on the issue of gun control, once an advantage for gun-control advocates, no longer benefits either side. In January, 37% of all Americans strongly favored stricter gun laws, with 27% strongly opposed to them. Now that 10-point difference has completely disappeared, with the number who strongly oppose and strongly favor stricter gun control at essentially the same level.

And according to the poll, geography plays a role in the fading support for gun control.

"Demographically speaking, the drop in support for stricter gun laws is mostly based on where people live, with a 10-point decline in the Midwest and a 15-point drop in urban areas having a lot to do with the overall decline nationally," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Two-thirds of people who live in big cities supported stricter gun control laws in the weeks following Newtown; now that figure is down to a bare majority. And while support for new gun laws is down in all regions of the country, it has fallen further in the Midwest," Holland added.

The poll indicates that majorities in the Northeast and the West still favor stricter gun control, but majorities in the South and Midwest now oppose it.

Support for gun control has waxed and waned

The survey's release comes just a few days after the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Brady Bill, which instituted federal background checks on firearm purchases. The law was named after James Brady, President Ronald Reagan's first White House Press Secretary, who was critically wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.

In December 1993, just days after the Brady Bill was signed into law, 70% of all Americans supported stricter gun control. By 1995, that number had dropped to 59%, and by early 1996 it had fallen to just 48%, the lowest level in CNN polling.

By the late 1990s, support for stricter gun control had rebounded to 62%, dropping again to 52% by 2003. A decade later, at the start of this year, it was still in the mid-50s before dropping to 49%.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from Nov. 18-20, with 843 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Gun control
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Ol' Yeller

    @just asking

    "why do we put armed guards in banks and armored trucks? the robbers know it is illegal to rob them. that should be sufficient."
    Because conservatives are way more worried about their money than they are about our children.

    BTW- your post about voter suppression under your other monikor was pretty funny.

    December 4, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Goby Dillis

    We the people are not to be disarmed, Why is that so hard for the liberal mind to understand? The 2nd amendment is required for all time, not only in our current ,but also our future world. There are people in society who are evil and will murder you in your sleep to steal your TV, rape your wife and burn your children alive. Those willing to surrender their ability to protect their families and their property deserve to live in a police state where they are at the mercy of authoritarian desires. And the ones most likely to do them evil are the ones that are supposed to be serving and protecting them. Oh and then lets consider that we still would have the criminals and the crazies waiting their turns. Yeah. Lets keep our right to bear arms. Any other decision is pure stupidity.

    December 4, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I am surprised Wayne LaPierre hasn't come out with something like, "Don't you people realize that the only solution is to arm everyone? That way when someone passes gas in your general direction, you can justifiably shoot him for assault!"

    December 4, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. pk

    YUP...how quickly we forget! Everyday, some gun-totting lunatic is out there shooting at innocent people and we bury our heads in the sand. I know of what I speak..my two sisters were shot and killed by a complete stranger one day and it forever changed our lives.

    December 4, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. The REAL Truth...

    it's sad that more than NINE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED people have lost their lives to guns since Newtown.

    December 4, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Lover not a Hater

    Since most (not all) gun crimes and killings are done by the less fortunate in society, and thus most likely democrats I think effective gun control would be to not allow a democrat to purchase a gun!!!

    Now that would be gun control I could live with!!!

    December 4, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. 2013

    Eric Holder spoke about his plan to brainwash the masses by talking about gun violence in public schools every single day. Not once a month, quarter or year – but every single day. It has been a complete DISASTER!!! Look what his mind control program has done. More gun violence in schools since he started his program than we have ever seen.

    Holder has also ruined the United States image abroad by demanding that MSM flood the news with daily gun violence. 10 people may drown in pools each day but MSM will print stories of gun violence just to keep it in the headlines daily – they print old stories without a date if they don't have anything new.

    I'm not suggesting that Holder created the plan, he was just the messenger, but it's been a nightmare and it needs to stop!!

    December 4, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. PPLRWRD

    I wonder why no one talks about the many times where an armed assailant was stopped because of an armed citizen?

    December 4, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Dead Bear

    I am as liberal as they come and I do not support stricter gun control laws. Universal back ground checks is as far as I would go. One only needs to look at what happened when the government outlawed booze and drugs. The black market for both flourished and only those willing to break the law were able to obtain them. There's nothing wrong with law-abiding citizens owning firearms.

    December 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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