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. anony

    No one will care until there's a Newtown every six months.

    December 4, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Matt

    Could this poll be more depressing?

    December 4, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Fubarack

    People are smart enough to know that gun control does not work. The 90's with the so called assault rifle ban, had many high profile shootings involving assault style firearms.
    People will use whatever they have as a weapon, just be thankful they haven't switched to blowing up buses like they do in some countries.

    December 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Michael

    I guess Americans are not as selfless as they claim to be. I guess if gun violence does not happen to us or to someone we know, we quickly forget the horror that guns violence brings to our society.

    December 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. rick

    Ban all guns !!

    December 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Sniffit

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

    Yeah, how terrible...who could possibly think it's appropriate for people to remind everyone about why they thought something was important yesterday when they seem to have forgotten today? You know, regardless of actively trying to remind people of why it's important to address these issues, all we have to do is wait for the next inevitable, predictable mass shooting, which WILL take place in the near future, and that'll do the reminding for us. So yeah, I suppose why bother with old 911 calls when we're assured to have new ones soon enough?

    December 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. QS

    Does it seem at all strange to anybody else that the ideology that drives the "government doesn't work" paranoia is the same ideology that just happens to contain 100% of the nuts who believe they need their guns to protect themselves from the government?

    Easy enough to figure out who the irrational ones are here – what's not so easy to figure out is why we as a country continue to allow this overly vocal minority control the entire conversation.

    December 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Oreo – neoliberal? Progressive, support civil liberties, and support economic growth versus the exact opposite of today's GOP.

    December 4, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Durka Durka

    Government has proven itself to be utterly incompetent in even the most mundane of tasks. They can't even get healthcare right, so I sure as heck don't trust them to regulate gun control. It's very hard to take politicians who advocate gun control seriously when they turn around and supply firearms to radical extremists behind our backs.

    December 4, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Devon

    "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."
    — Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

    December 4, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. BelladonnaCove

    PaulG said it best.

    December 4, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Robertson

    There are only a very small percentage of people in this country who are sociopathic enough to use a firearm to randomly kill people, and these same sociopaths will get access to guns regardless of stricter laws. This latest wave of “gun control” is just another power grab by the government to chip away at our Constitutional rights. The people in power are the ones that cannot be trusted.

    December 4, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. John q

    If you are opposed to the US constitution. Move out.

    December 4, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. PatD

    Why release the tapes now? Doesn't anyone have a sense of decency any more?

    December 4, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Zondar

    Maybe it's because everyone figured out that it's a mental health problem, not a gun problem.

    December 4, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Garth

    Because it doesn't work and is just a political ploy and knee jerk reaction by liberals to a deeper problem. Those that follow the law are penalized, those that do not are not affected by this non sense. It's that simple.

    December 4, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. History_Repeats_Itself

    Support for gun control did not go down. It stopped being as vocal because people have lives to lead. These sorts of tragedies will happen again and everyone will hear from those who support control measures again. Gun control does not mean taking away all guns. It means controlling the ability of someone meaning to do harm to pop off 30 shots in under 10 seconds.

    December 4, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. ThisIsNot4U2

    This is truly sad news. So now any CRAZY parent like Mrs. Lanza can arm her child(ren) with all kinds of "weaponry" and the only thing we can do is sit back and wait for another mass shooting?!?!?!?!...*smh*...

    December 4, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Gene

    Good news but, I'd be skeptical of anything CNN or the gov't prints relative to statistics, including gun control. If true, there has been much information released on gun control that has changed people's minds. Gun ownership is imperative in these times.

    December 4, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. tony

    Readily available guns are really usefull in drive by shootings and killing people trying to run away, shelter or drive off in their cars.

    Knives, clubs and bows and arrows really don't cut it in those situations. So we need plenty of guns to keep those pleasurable activities going.

    December 4, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Tommy G

    So when these mentally deranged people lose it and start killing people, why don't we first send in the lefties to wave these laws in front of them and point out that they are in total violation of the law and must stop shooting immediately or else you shall pass more laws and come back and wave them as well?

    Oh yeah, because first we call good guys with guns in order to address the problem. Too bad there weren't more good guys with guns closer to the problem and not 10-20 minutes away. People will always attack the most defenseless people. Making people more defenseless is a formula for greater, not less, death.

    December 4, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Meh

    So that's why they want to release the 911 calls. There's an agenda to promote and they can't do it unless they're standing atop the graves of enough victims. By all means, allow emotion to steer the nation. Don't use facts or reasoning.

    December 4, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. mitchyj

    Funny how the announcement that stricter gun control is losing steam comes on the same day the U.S. global education rankings slip to a new lo— even below Vietnam. More guns, poorer reading and arithmetic scores. What an embarrassment.

    December 4, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Your Dad

    So that's why they want to release the 911 calls. There's an agenda to promote and they can't do it unless they're standing atop enough victims' bodies. By all means, allow emotion to steer the nation. Don't use facts or reasoning.

    December 4, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. just saying

    Matt
    Could this poll be more depressing?
    -–

    i agree... so many clueless lemmings willing to sacrifice their constitutional rights for a fallacy. another sign of our failed leftist union public school systems.

    December 4, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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