CNN Poll: Gun control opinions following shootings
August 9th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Gun control opinions following shootings

Washington (CNN) - Americans' attitudes toward gun control have remained steady in the wake of the recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday indicates that the public remains divided on the issue, with 50% saying they favor no restrictions or only minor restrictions on owning guns and 48% supporting major restrictions or a complete ban on gun ownership by individuals except police and other authorized personnel.

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Those numbers are identical to where they were in 2011, and the number who support major restrictions or a complete ban has remained in the 48%-to-50% range for more than a decade.

"Not surprisingly, there are gender and ideological gaps on this issue, with more than six in ten women and two thirds of self-described liberals supporting major restrictions or a complete ban, compared to just 34% of men and 36% of self-described conservatives," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And major restrictions on guns are most popular in urban areas and in the Northeast than in the rest of the country."

What specific restrictions do Americans favor?

The poll indicates that two meet with almost unanimous approval: Ninety-six percent are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons or people with mental health problems from owning guns.

Three-quarters of people questioned favor gun registration with local governments, and roughly six in ten favor bans on the sale or possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. But 54% oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own, and only one in ten think that all Americans should be prevented from owning guns.

"It's important to note that the numbers on those proposals have also remained essentially unchanged in the wake of the recent shootings," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Tuesday and Wednesday (August 7-8), after Sunday's shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and after last month's shootings at a movie theater in Colorado.

One-thousand and ten adult Americans were questioned by telephone in the survey. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

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Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Gun rights
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. notsayjusayin

    bla bla all the "commandments" in the USA, it not the same world it was 200 years ago, MUCH MUCH MUCH more irresponsible society..... yet everyone can have a gun..... No no no...... ques is how do we go about changing... we trapped by our own bill of rights....makes me fricking sick.....bye

    August 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Adam


    That same logic applies to Obamacare. Or does that only work when courts approve of an issue that Republicans are in favor of?

    August 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Chad

    We should not ban semi-automatic weapons. We need to control the distribution. I agree, not everyone should be allowed to posses an assualt rifle, but if you have been trained to use them then you should be allowed to own them. Basically if you have past military or law enforment training then you should be allowed to own an AR-15 or AK-47. If we ban the weapons from the public then the we should also ban these weapons from law enforcement and the armed forces. Its only fair.

    Just my thoughts!

    August 9, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Hindu

    The truth is - Guns are a big business and NRA is nothing more than a trade group protecting that business. They are not that concerned about 2nd amendment which is mostly out-of-time and out-of-place in today's circumstances. However, the 2nd amendment is quite convenient for NRA to hide behind on in this issue so they can keep selling guns and make money. It is all about big money, special interests and lobbyists. Anyone who thinks this is about taking a principled stand is deluding himself.

    August 9, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. AZ Wildcat

    There has to be real psych evals prior to ownership and ongoing monitoring for mental health, restraining orders, domestic violence. I have no problems with guns, I have a real problem with the number of blatantly crazy getting guns.

    August 9, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Andy

    It really dosn't matter if 60% favored major controls and you had supermajorities of liberals in both houses of congress. 3/4 of states must ratify any change to the 2nd ammendment and since about 2/3 of the states are 'red', good luck with that. Also given the recent DC decision concerning handgun control, don't look to relief from the courts either.

    August 9, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. KevinP

    Why is it that those who support an outright ban think that the police should keep theirs? If the general public can't have them, the police shouldn't need them...

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. James Bowen

    Sounds like most Americans favor reasonable restrictions. Not quite what you said on TV.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. TacoMan

    How about they poll people who actually are familiar with firearms instead of people who learn what they know about firearms from video games and movies? Funny how millions upon millions of gun owners are supposed to give up their rights because a few dozen wackos decide to shoot up some innocents....yet the millions of drunk drivers never make us question alcohol or car restrictions. My car's speedometer goes up over 120mph. I've never taken it that fast but imagine it's capable of when we see speeding causing accidents, why don't we have the maximum be 70mph just like they want magazine restrictions? Most people don't realize that semi-autos and 30 round magazines are EXTREMELY common and are used all the time for self defense, sports, and hunting(not the mags). Leave me and my sport alone and I will let you have "just a few drinks" before you drive home "legally" because you're "below the limit"...

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Zoey

    I don't own a gun, never have and never will. I know A LOT of gun owners and the only thing I can say to them is "what are you so afraid of?"
    The recent attack in Colorado shows you that if you wear enough armor, no amount of gun shot retaliation will kill your attacker. So again I ask, "what are you so afraid of?"
    I think we should ban all guns unless you are ex-military and/or police.
    If you feel the need to hunt, shoot and kill an animal, maybe we should rent guns on some type of animal preserve and allow that there but the average idiot shouldn't be allowed to have a gun.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Not a Gun Owner

    Guns are a physical manifestation of the very principles on which this country is founded. The rights of the people, their liberties, their freedoms, trump the desires of those in government to oppress the people out of concern for their safety.

    ~ I'm not a gun owner.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Eric

    Yea, Let's take guns away from the law-abiders so only criminals and police have them. That's beyond insane. Criminals will always EASILY have access to guns. They will make and distribute guns underground if need be. Guns and very simple to make with only basic metal working supplies. Every corner metals shop in the cities startving for cash will be making gun parts on the side. People are so blind to reality. "Ban guns" they say, let the criminals have NO FEAR to walk into your house and hold you at gunpoint while they rob you and rape your wife. The only thing that keeps this from happening is the fear of them getting killed by the home-owner.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. jim

    Conservatives cry that their rights will be offended if gun access is limited, but being killed by one of those guns is just part of being an American.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The GOP wants no restrictions on guns, only restrictions on voting.

    August 9, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Benjamin Franklin"

    Yes, that's an NRA favorite, we know. Of course, background checks, registering as a gun owner with the local police, etc., aren't necessarily "giving up freedom," so as usual, conservatives are vomitting vague platitudes designed to shut down the conversation instead of trying to move it forward.

    August 9, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. firewalker

    over 48 thousand people last year were K I L L E D by the AUTOMOBILE are we going to BAND THEM............didn't think so.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Andrew

    The courts have spoken, so drop it.

    Or does that only work when the courts approve of an issue that Democrats are in favor of?"

    I'm sure you love to hold the line when SCOTUS comes down on the gun nut side. Law is fluid, not rigid.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Nobody N. Particular


    Don't confuse a poll as a representation of the greater population, there are no democratic processes in polling, the results can depend on the way the questions are worded, or where the poll takers are stationed. Also, the Second Amendment is NOT granted to the people by the GOVERNMENT, but by God alone, that is why its called a Natural Right; it was recognized as such because our founding fathers had more sense then our current leaders and saw government as a necessary evil that needs to be kept in check by an armed populous.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. $am

    It's too late anyway, there are too many lethal weapons in circulation now. The NRA has insured us a bloody future!

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. jim

    Actually, schaz – the Supreme Court held that limitations on gun ownership rights is constitutionally appropriate. It was just the particular law in that case that was too extreme.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Doesn't Matter

    The country needs a healthy dose of gun control, so we can get past this fantasy that guns are the problem. That said, after listening to discussions of “the Timothy McVeigh massacre” as part of NPR’s “Guns 101” show, the realization that rational though on the subject is unlikely at best, (the McVeigh massacre was done with fertilizer & Diesel fuel).

    By the same token, we need a significant tax increase on the “rich” to get past the current BS on this subject and recognize the (first-grade) math showing that even a 90% tax rate on “the 1%” wouldn’t touch the deficit created by the morons we continue to elect.

    “He didn’t do it, his gun did”
    “I’m poor because someone else has all the money”
    “My kid doesn’t learn because of bad teachers”
    (has nothing to do with the parents)
    “They sent all our jobs to China”
    (has nothing to do with US consumers refusing to pay for US labor)

    In the end, the problem is easy to find. All that’s needed is a mirror.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Joan Wheeler

    It's obvious that we're never going to be able to outlaw guns; too many gun-happpy idiots are in charge. How about a life sentance without parole if you are convicted of any crime using a gun. If you can't control the guns, maybe you can control the users. And no one except someone in the military needs an AK-47. That's plain nonsense.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Freedom Lover

    "48% supporting major restrictions or a complete ban on gun ownership by individuals except police and other authorized personnel."

    That is the scariest thing I read all day. So 48% of people think that banning guns would stop crime when anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that almost all the people who commit gun crimes obtain them illegally. If legal guns were banned this country would be one scary place. That would be an inventation for an invasion.

    August 9, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Michael

    The problem is fear. We hate the violence that guns help promote, but we fear that very same violence and desire to protect ourselves from it. The circle is vicious and unending.

    August 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Robert

    Thomas – why "ban" semi-automatic weapons? They have many uses, and that term is so vague, it encompasses many, many different types of guns, ranging in everything from hunting rifles, to shotguns, to handguns, to (eeeek) scary-looking guns that you don't like.

    It amazes me that some folks in the US are so willing to bend over backwards to throw away their liberty to an ever-growing Government power – the EXACT opposite of what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

    I'm sorry, but there are plenty of other countries you can go to which have gun bans to make you feel safer from your fellow citizens. I'll continue to have faith in my fellow citizenry that 99.9% of them are honest, law-abiding, and won't harm you with their guns.

    August 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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