CNN Poll: Support for stricter gun control fades
December 4th, 2013
01:38 PM ET
9 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. Silence DoGood

    Neither "Banning all guns" or "guns for everyone" would have prevented Newtown. Crazy beats being lawful and Crazy beats person with a gun.

    What need is reasonable gun control and call it good.

    December 4, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Frank Brady

    Liberals are so entertaining.

    December 4, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Mark

    Only thing this poll tells me is that, over the last year, people have gotten just a little bit wiser!! After all the hype from the media has diminished, and the propoganda machine is idle again, people stop thinking with emotions and start using their brains again and come back to the same inevitable common sense conclusion......GUNS AREN'T THE PROBLEM....people are the problem....period!! No amount of debate, no amount of sensationalistic media anti-gun bias, no amount of political rhetoric is EVER going to change that fact. EVER!

    December 4, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Atoadaso

    Only a matter of time before another kid, trained in hunting skills, invades another school. How many schools and kids will it take? Don't rag on me; I am a gun owner (anti-hunting and anti-NRA). Not all gun owners have to kill something, but it seems that the kids who kill their classmates started with Bambi and their parents put guns in their hands at an early age. Maybe we need to be more "gun smart" and ban dangerous weapons in the hands of anyone under 18. You can not drink and be a potential killer but you can have an arsenal at age 3. Yea, we need some common sense rules in America and kids and guns, regardless of what you think of Duck Dynasty, just don't mix. I remember when just playing with a toy gun was considered taboo. Now you can buy your 3 year old a machine gun and teach him to kill.

    December 4, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. ScarecrowA7X

    I like my guns but I do not support the NRA. I do believe that back ground checks should be completed to legally purchase all guns. I also know that criminals do not follow laws, so banning guns will just make law abiding citizens more open to the dirt bag cockroaches to prey on less dangerous for the criminals. It is not that gun crimes has increased, it is just due to the way that we can receive quicker information about these crimes. I knew that a few months after Newtown that the gun law lobbyists would quiet down and forget about it. I also know that as the 1 year comes up in a week or so, then it will all be brought to the for front again because the media LOVES tragedy.

    December 4, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Peach

    More guns = LESS VIOLENCE The issues is NOT gun control, it is mental health. Even tho Obama wants all your guns--he's not getting them anytime soon.

    December 4, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Not You

    There should just be laws against killing people. Guns didn't do it, people did. Geezz so easy a ..... never mind.

    December 4, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Emeter Berter

    There is already a very important, safe, sensible gun control in place: murder is illegal. Assault is illegal.

    December 4, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Jo Addams

    And if the teachers had been armed, how many could have been saved?

    December 4, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. tony

    For every criminal weapon on the street, there was a responsible gun owner who sold it, lost it or had it stolen.

    December 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. eric

    When Seconds Count, the Cops Are Only Minutes Away

    December 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Mark "GUNS AREN'T THE PROBLEM....people are the problem"
    If people are the problem, don't give the people any more guns.

    December 4, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Mark

    Only thing this poll tells me is that, over the last year, people have gotten just a little bit wiser!! After all the hype from the media has diminished, and the propoganda machine is idle again, people stop thinking with emotions and start using their brains again and come back to the same inevitable common sense conclusion......GUNS AREN'T THE PROBLEM....people are the problem....period!! No amount of debate, no amount of sensationalism by the anti-gun media, no amount of political rhetoric is EVER going to change that fact. EVER!

    December 4, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Jesse

    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?

    That sounds like a threat.....

    December 4, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Name

    How can anyone have given a gun to Adam Lanza. Did u see his photo? Don't need a medical degree to know he wasn't right mentally.

    December 4, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. tony

    Just think, if we had had a few armed teachers at the Alamo, we would have won, and taken no casualties!

    December 4, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. HenryMiller

    People are finally figuring out that punishing the 99.9999 percent of responsible gun owners for the actions of the crazy few is unjust, unreasonable, and unworkable.

    December 4, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @Jo Addams "And if the teachers had been armed, how many could have been saved?"
    None. The shooters Mom had guns and could protect herself right? He killed her and then he took the guns. Self protection against Crazy is a lie. Newtown actually proved that.

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

    That's too bad. I always need another excuse to get another gun. We have more guns out there than ever and statistics show there are less mass shootings and gun violence. Educated gun owners is the key. Living in a state where I have a concealed handgun license is helpful. I even heard Bill Maher say he keeps guns in several places in his home so its not so clear a liberal vs conservative issue.

    December 4, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -Mark

    Only thing this poll tells me is that, over the last year, people have gotten just a little bit wiser!! After all the hype from the media has diminished, and the propoganda machine is idle again, people stop thinking with emotions and start using their brains again and come back to the same inevitable common sense conclusion......GUNS AREN'T THE PROBLEM....people are the problem....period!! No amount of debate, no amount of sensationalistic media anti-gun bias, no amount of political rhetoric is EVER going to change that fact. EVER!
    ****************
    These are the same people that are operating with total emotion when it comes to their health insurance. I don't hear a similar call for calm, ration, sober thought when its about see that more people can purchase private health insurance: we hear hysterical cries from them, along with apocolyptic warnings. Well, I guess a few massacres in Red states is what we need from people who saw their mental health facilites cut by a grinning GOp governor, proud that he was able to cut taxes on unimportant things. Now, lets get to real government business, like declaring the Colt 45 the national handgun.

    December 4, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. DC2day

    Look, the reasons for these results are simple. We have an event like Newtown, and of course people want to prevent another one. However, none of the new laws proposed would have impacted any of these mass shootings. Not the background checks, not the gun bans. Nothing.

    December 4, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. TPW

    The farther we get from a tragedy, the more people think instead of feel, and the more they realize that gun control is not the answer they're looking for.

    December 4, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Jamal

    How many ppl died this year from speeding cars? Who needs to go 80 mph? Oh wait..... It's the same argument.

    December 4, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Lover not a Hater

    Gun violence is terrible and I feel horrible for the innocent people killed in these tradgedies, but people kill, not the gun. The gun is simply the instrument, and if you ban all guns then the innocent people who want to defend their family from that crazy SOB breaking into their house is helpless. Fine make the gun harder for people to get (like criminals, or second hand purchases, etc), but to ban them totally is ridiculous.

    I love the hypocracy of the person that says "ban all guns" (which kill around 30,000 a year in USA) yet they are for abortion that kills 1.2 million potential babies every year in the USA. For a person to argue about gun violence and the innocent lives it takes, and then in the same breathe be for abortion is completely idiotic.

    December 4, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. tony

    Just "point and shoot". Even 2 year old can do it.

    December 4, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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