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

    when only police have guns its called a police state. Ted kennedy killed more people with his car than i have with my gun. China has gun control

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

    @Silence GoGood...

    OK. We won't give "the people" any more guns. Oh, and by the way, we also won't give "the people" any more...
    A. Knives
    B. Baseball bats
    C. Cars
    D. Alcohlic Beverages (drunk drivers)
    E. Cell phones (texting and driving)
    F. Pressure Cookers (Boston Marathon bombers)
    G. Rope (so people can't be strangled)
    H. Swords
    I. Spears
    J. Sling Shots
    K. Bricks
    L. Rocks of any kind

    Etc etc etc. The list goes on and on and on, and I could get as ridiculous as you'd like. But, I think you get my point.

    December 4, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    arottenegg

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

    How convenient.
    ------------------------–
    I suppose that the right wing has never heard of the Freedom of Information Act. I'm sure that many members of the victims families would prefer that the calls not be released, eventually most anything to be released within a certain time period. Seeing how the calls are not being used as evidence in a court case, it's most likely that simply time ran out, and they had to be released.

    December 4, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    The real question should be, what can be done? If we are unwilling to do anything about the availability of guns, then what about mental health? Is the GOP House willing to step up to the plate to adequately fund mental health programs, since its doubtful we could get the states to agree on a uniform standard? My instincts tell me, sadly, no, they will not do it.

    December 4, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. 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.

    December 4, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. Christine

    "where a lone gunman killed 20 young students and six adults before killing himself" – AND his mother. Why is she always excluded from these news stories? Are we shaming her because her child did an awful thing? She was a victim too.

    December 4, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Pjmalone

    I doubt this is an accurate Poll. My opinion about the need for better gun-control laws has not changed since Sandyhook. There is no reason to change your opinion about that. If Congress is too fickle or tied to special interests to not pass better gun control laws that will protect us from deranged people with guns, then at least let l each State and local community enact laws for better protection where they live.

    December 4, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. SerTrollsALot

    I thought Americans had Second Amendment rights. What gives?

    December 4, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. just saying

    if we locked up all of the mentally ill, the leftists would scream voter suppression.

    December 4, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. ray

    Only in Amerika! Glad I don't live there!

    December 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Paul

    We need to focus on the small number of people who choose to use guns in violent criminal acts.

    20,000 hand gun related suicides per year-diagnose and treat their depression.

    10-12,000 gang banger related inner city homicides per year-remove these people from society (prison) (other options)

    Few hundred deaths per year in rampage mass shootings- diagnose and treat their mental illness

    "Gun control" does not work. Targeting violent criminal behavior and mental health issues is where we need to start, but politics gets in the way. The solutions are out there, but they are a political nightmare and will not help someone get re-elected.

    December 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. madman37

    Oh dear, support for unnecessary gun outrage is fading. Time for CNN to focus on Porsche control, high-speed driving control, and tree and light-pole control.

    December 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Christine "where a lone gunman killed 20 young students and six adults before killing himself" – AND his mother. . Why is she always excluded from these news stories? "
    -----------
    She is an inconvenient person for gun rights folks. It shows that a house full of guns does not bestow self-protection.
    The reality is that guns are way more often in accidents, suicides, familiar deaths. Very rarely self protection. And never protection form the government
    The movie hero protecting with a gun is just that – a movie.

    December 4, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Borderless

    Great! Now, let's see what you gun nuts can shoot up next! How about a nursery? I mean, you gun nuts showed real initiative exercising your second amendment rights at elementary schools, but you might be a lot more effective if your targets were immobile.

    December 4, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    *****************
    Sadly, its not sufficient. Apparently 20 dead children is not sufficiently gory to outrage people, but health insurance is sufficient.

    December 4, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. AdamB

    "Pjmalone
    I doubt this is an accurate Poll. My opinion about the need for better gun-control laws has not changed since Sandyhook. There is no reason to change your opinion about that. If Congress is too fickle or tied to special interests to not pass better gun control laws that will protect us from deranged people with guns, then at least let l each State and local community enact laws for better protection where they live."
    -----------------------------
    Really? Better gun control laws will protect you from a deranged person with a gun? How? Do criminals obey laws? Do criminals get background checks when they buy a throw away gun in an alley? Do criminals pay attention to "No Gun" zones?

    By your own statement, we need protection from the deranged people that ALREADY HAVE WEAPONS. So now, tell me how disarming the law abiding, non-deranged people will "Protect" them. How does it make them safer to take away a means of defense?

    Even better, why don't you carry around a copy of all the thousands of current gun laws that are on the books. Then, if you are ever threatened, hold that up and say "HALT YOU DERANGED PERSON!! I HAVE A LAW HERE TO PROTECT ME!!".

    We all have a right to bear arms. YOU do not have a right to "feel secure" by passing idiotic laws that are ignored by the very people they target. WE all have a right to protect ourselves. Feelings don't matter. Reality does.

    December 4, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. 2012liberal

    Well of course. This country suffers from permanent amnesia. 2010 did happen and we get 2 suffer that for the next 20 yrs. 10yrs 2 endure this mess of a house and 10yrs 2 fix it.

    December 4, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @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.
    --------–
    Also note that having the guns there with the guards also does not stop bank robberies. Neither laws nor guns will stop them all.

    December 4, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Peppy

    @ Rudy, please start thinking for yourself. Nice canned ans, by the Obam bunch !!! Its ok the world needs fodder !!!

    December 4, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. OldSchool

    This is entirely unsurprising, the average American has the attention span and memory permanence of a canary. Unfortunately it is also likely too late to regain the control of high capacity magazines that the AWB provided before it expired, as the market was quickly flooded with them shortly thereafter. One of the common traits of these massacres, particularly as of late, is the use of large aftermarket magazines.

    On a positive note, contrary to what the gun lobby would have you believe, despite an uptick in firearm sales – per capita gun ownership has been on the decline for some time. This is indicative of an increasingly smaller number of gun nuts hoarding guns – guns are organically working their way out of civilized society.

    December 4, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Tony D

    If we just had another 20,000 gun control laws we could reduce the number of incidents to exactly what they are now. Because crazy and criminal people don't care about the laws. That is why they are called crazy and criminals!

    Please get a clue out there.

    December 4, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. sonny chapman

    How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see. How many deaths will it take til we know, that too many people have died.

    December 4, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. 2012liberal

    Here here @silence. So so true! And media. Had a local ex journalist speak at our rotary meeting. Media media media. It is a major monoply of clear channel of 6 companies. The tele com act in 1996 blew the doors open and now no real journalism. Corporate controled news. C if this even gets posted.

    December 4, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. Ol' Yeller

    @Mark
    "Etc etc etc. The list goes on and on and on, and I could get as ridiculous as you'd like. But, I think you get my point."

    So please enlighten me... when has there been mass stabbing, beating, pummeling, rock throwing event, etc... which has resulted in the deaths of innocent elementary school children in their classrooms. Ridiculous arguments are not what is needed here.
    I'm not for 'gun control', but I'm also not going to put myself in the same category of these crazed murderers that the NRA and it's ilk seem to be more interested in protecting the rights of than these families who ought to have the right for the young children to attend school without being murdered. Then the family sues the school (state) and we (the taxpayers) have increased taxes to pay for the settlements to protect this so called 'right' of some insane child murderer. Well, guess what that leads to.... extremely strict gun control laws or outright bans when the pendelum swings the other way because 'gunowners' refuse to give an inch.
    So this gun owner isn't joining in on the side of insane murderers right to carry assault rilfes into schools and murder children. You do what you want, but remember this when the next insane murderer tried to set a new record and DOES sway public opinion to the point where it seriously affects your 'right'.
    I hope you get MY point.

    December 4, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. tony

    RE:
    OK. We won't give "the people" any more guns. Oh, and by the way, we also won't give "the people" any more...
    A. Knives
    B. Baseball bats
    C. Cars
    D. Alcohlic Beverages (drunk drivers)
    E. Cell phones (texting and driving)
    F. Pressure Cookers (Boston Marathon bombers)
    G. Rope (so people can't be strangled)
    H. Swords
    I. Spears
    J. Sling Shots
    K. Bricks
    L. Rocks of any kind

    Etc etc etc. The list goes on and on and on, and I could get as ridiculous as you'd like. But, I think you get my point.

    * * * * * * * * *

    If guns don't kill people, then why do you need the 2nd Amendment? Just rise up an throw out the gubbermint with all of the list above instead.

    December 4, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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