CNN Poll: Support for stricter gun control fades
December 4th, 2013
01:38 PM ET
4 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. Rudy NYC

    "The way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." NRA

    "The way to stop airplane hijackers is to give alll the passengers a pistol as they board."
    Archie Bunker, "All in the Family", 1972, 3rd season opener, "Archie and the Editorial"

    December 4, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Anthony

    So, the reason for releasing the 911 calls comes out.

    December 4, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. PaulG

    The people do not trust those in power, and rightly so.

    December 4, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    As long as the blind can get guns in Iowa, we will be safe.

    December 4, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. ItSoNlYmE

    I'm all in favor of everybody having a gun. Eventually we'll all kill each other and then there won't be any more gun violence. Everybody gets what they want that way. The gun nuts get 100% gun carry, and we put an end to the insanity. Problem solved.

    December 4, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Sean T

    and how convenient that now we'll have the 911 tapes released by the media in an effort to salvage some measure of support for the very gun control that most do not want.

    December 4, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. oreo

    writing legislation while overly emotional is never wise, however to a neoliberal this is SOP.

    December 4, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Bob

    Oh so that is the reason why they are releasing the 911 calls.

    December 4, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. itsme_ok

    We don't need gun control, we need some crazy-people control.

    December 4, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Otis B. Driftwood

    Gee, and we had the liberals telling us "97% want gun control". Looks like another left-wing fantasy!

    December 4, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Pat

    We need mental health control, not gun control.

    December 4, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. wrm

    Well, you can always keep re-releasing phone calls and pictures to keep the fear efforts up.

    December 4, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Bob from Accounting

    Yeah... keep saying you have no agenda CNN

    Just don't be like your fellow indoctrinates and edit the 911 call, m'kay?

    December 4, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Jack 63

    If you want gun control, start by enforcing the laws already on the books. Simple and easy and therefore impossible.

    December 4, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. just saying

    leftist/socialist/progressive/communist democrats would love nothing more than taking most of your paycheck and giving it to others, removing your healthcare choice, restricting free speech and election materials and disarming american citizens.

    they are halfway there people. maybe more.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. InTheMiddle

    Like I've always said, no one cares, next.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. ktown8

    And just in time for the Congressional Research Service releasing stats showing that murder rates have plummeted since 1993 despite gun ownership increasing from 192 million to over 310 million. Liberals hate facts.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. arottenegg

    "Support for gun control drops in year after Newtown shootings, poll says. The 911 calls from school to be released soon."

    How convenient.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Zolicon

    Yeah they can not let those Profit margins drop by keeping People alive.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. jowl

    Sorry, Gibby Gaffords.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. arottenegg

    "Support for gun control drops in year after Newtown shootings, poll says. The 911 calls from school to be released soon."

    How convenient.

    December 4, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. termlimits

    Social eletists believe the purpose of ideas is to fool people too stupid to reason.

    December 4, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. Mar

    I think it is horrible that they want to release the 911 tapes! What exactly is the point??? Especially this close to the anniversary of the horrific tragady! And I'm still personnally going strong for more gun control!

    December 4, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. George

    So, Cnn and other media are going to screen the calls to see if THEY deem it ok for the poor overly sensitive public to hear. So much for truth I'm media, it's not up to them to tell us if we're to sensitive to hear anything.

    December 4, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. gmrush

    How soon we forget...

    December 4, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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