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. REDO Republican Primary

    roughly six in ten (60%) FAVOUR bans on the SALE OR POSSESSION of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

    QUESTION: HOW is that percentage not good enough to put in place some sort of control on automatic weapons? Ift his many people have wanted this kinds of guns controled, why hasn't ANYONE pushed for more controls?

    August 9, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. J in NJ

    Does not mater what the polls say. SCOTUS says we get to keep our guns and 100 count clips and that's the way its gonna stay!

    August 9, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. DavidW0909

    Hang on a minute people, there are over 200,000,000 legally owned guns in the US. If it were that big of a problem then there would be law abiding citizens out murdering people on a daily basis. While cases like James Holmes and Wade Page whom did obtain their guns legally are nothing more than aberrations, the real problem with gun violence in this country does not come from legal gun ownership, it comes from dangerous and often violent people who already have felony arrests and obtain a gun illegally and go out and commit murder. Does the fact they aren't supposed to have a gun mean they won't get one? NO! Do you think that if all legal gun ownership were banned that they would not be able to get their hands on a gun? NO! WHY? Because illegal drugs are not sold in stored and that doesn't seem to stop drug dealers or users from obtaining it so do you think that if all legal gun ownership was banned that there would be a decrease in guns in the US? NO! Do you think that if there were a total ban on all gun ownership that these same criminals are going to say "Well, these normal citizens with all those electronics in their house are no longer armed so I think I will just turn over a new leaf and stop my criminal ways"? OF COURSE THEY WON'T SAY THAT!!!!! They will be MORE emboldened and what you'd get is a black market for guns and people, regular law abiding people, would be out there buying guns illegally. What sort of a drain on law enforcement is that going to have? MASSIVE! Then we'd have illegal drug dealers and illegal arms dealers and while there already are illegal arms dealers NOW we'll have MANY MORE! Banning Guns? GREAT IDEA? NOOOOOOOO!

    August 9, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Haze

    It won't happen. In the southern part of our country alot of family activitivies revolve around fishing and hunting. Dove hunting starts Sept 1st and in Texas fathers and sons are out together hunting on labor day. I am a big sportsman and love hunting but don't have AK's and those sort of guns but like a lot a Americans I choose to have a handgun and short shotgun for home defense along with my sporting guns You are not going to get people to give up guns no matter how much you scream.

    August 9, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Sam

    I wonder who oppose gun control would be so if they were hurt in one of these incidents in some shape or form. Reagan's aide Brady only AFTER he got hurt by the shooting had any support at all for the 3 day waiting period.

    August 9, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Lee

    The bigger issue I think is the pansy justice system we have that punishes victims and rewards criminals. Why are multiply convicted felons on the streets? Why do many of these shooters have lengthy criminal histories? I realize this guy in Colorado was technically rather clean, but look at the murders in your own cities, people.

    Everyday here in Louisville we see murders by people that have been through the prision system on multiple occasions. It is time for criminals to be held accountable for their actions...instead they get off easy. We had one recent case where a young punk had stolen a car and killed four innocent teenagers. He got ONE YEAR for manslaughter. Guess what, he was just arrested again for driving a stolen vehicle. When will our leaders make the law a detterant to crime? Instead these punks get free meals and shelter on my dime until they get out and do it again. I support a nationwide rule like CA has where three felonies and it's life in prison. But I would actually prefere a bullet to the head to get rid of these POS that wont; conform to society.

    If the justice system would do what it should to protect the citizens we would not have the need that we have now for the guns. When you have police officers that know the criminals on a first name basis because they have locked them up so many times you know there is a problem.

    August 9, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. Sam

    To Trey, yes while knives or hammers etc can be used to kill people – they can ONLY kill at most one person. Guns on the other hand have the ability to kill massively. How many such incidents have to occur for you to wake up!

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Big Tim

    I'm still trying to figure out what "God Given Rights" have been taken away by the Obama administration or Federal Govt.? I just can't think of a single one, help me out here.

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Al in TX

    Guns don't kill people, but people with guns kill more people than people without guns.

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. steve

    Someday in the future, America will either realize that guns are bad and need to be banned or America will keep guns and tear the country apart with violence.

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. intheaspens

    Our right to keep and bear arms, our human right for self-defense, is a done deal. Get over it! Let's instead talk about how to fix our dysfunctional mental health system or the general breakdown of morals in society. I can remember in the not-too-distant past buying firearms by mail order with no background checks and no government lists, and mass shootings like the ones of the past several years were unheard of. So what has changed besides firearms being more difficult to legally purchase??

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. keltic1

    Why would it change? Disarming is more dangerous to the masses.
    "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
    "Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms." Aristotle

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. timm

    Maybe everyone should go back and re-read the article to the end. Seems to me like it's saying that the vast majority of Americans support some reasonable restrictions on gun ownership. We're not a bunch of crazed gun nuts or a bunch of wimpy liberals. There is a broad agreement on what needs to be done and all the posturing is just getting in the way of making it happen. Let's chill out a bit and make some progress on this issue already.

    August 9, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. HA25

    You ever tried, sniffit? Automatic weapons fire so fast that recoil becomes a constant "push". Semi-Automatic's you have to recover from the recoil and aim each time you fire. Totally different experience.
    Try it sometime then you'll know what you're talking about.

    August 9, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. chris

    hey how did that photographer take a picture of those guns without getting shot?

    August 9, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Brad

    If you don't like my 2nd Amendment rights, please feel free to move to a different country that outlaws civilian firearm ownership where you can "feel safer" maybe Iran...

    August 9, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. pa2hunter

    i always love how they talk about a complete ban on ownership of guns, like that is an option in the first place

    August 9, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "relinqueshing more more more of their God given rights to a federal government that wishes to take more and more of them away."

    God gives us the right to "bear arms"? Fancy that.

    August 9, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. AshleyM512

    Hey Gun Hater, you know drugs are illegal, criminals still get drugs. You make guns illegal, criminals will still get guns. Only law abiding citizens follow laws. I'd rather have the option to protect my family from a criminal. Ever heard the saying "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight"?

    And read Trey's comment. He's completely correct.

    August 9, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. We vote for better times

    100s of thousands of American men and women have died defending the rights of their fellow Americans (All of them), Now because a few perish because a few abuse their rights we should throw their sacrifices to the dogs. I support the second amendment as written even if I were to be one of the few who died due to someone abusing that freedom. You anti-gun people are actually the problem and resided in denial to why it is 2nd on the bill of rights and yet you think you are adding something meaningful to the conversation. The times haven't progressed to the point that we should be willing to give up that right especially, In actuality they have progressed to the point of defending that right with the utmost fervor. Its easy to reason out to its purpose, so what seems to be the problem some of you folks seem to have with understanding. The framers of the constitution were aware of the progression of technology and of firearms and yet chose to list it as uninfringed still. And as an American it is our civic duty to defend it still.

    August 9, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    When Obama and the leftist Democrats have "more flexibility" they will get around to taking your gun rights from you America. Right now they are too busy wrecking the economy and your healtchare system. In due time, in due time....

    August 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Raj

    To Gun Owner,
    I understand your logic. But If someone is trying to hurt other person using a knife, probability of the potential victim to defend himself or at the very least protect himself is very high. He/she can fight back or probably neutralize the attacker. But with guns and automatics and semi automatics, you hardly stand a chance. Potential for mass destruction is very high. Common man is not Neo from Matrix who can stop a bullet from an automatic by staring at it. That is why there guns should be classified for military or police and not for a common man.

    August 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. glades2

    Interesting that the same numbers are for abortion – as the Bible says, in the end one will be taken to Heaven and one left – considering the 50/50 number outcome has been consistent since the 2000 election (it seems the outcome of many important issues are at 50/50) perhaps we are closer to that Biblical time than we realize...

    August 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. bee

    Yes, there needs to be a conversation about gun control as a talking point in this election. Do not think Romney is going to initially start the conversation because the NRA hughly contributes to his bogus run for the presidency. Wow, did you hear for all of those gun zealots, that the chairmen of the NRA, within 24/48 hours of the Wisconsin shooting was talking about his 2nd amendment right being in danger, as opposed to sending his condolences to those families that were impacted by this terrible shooting..You can see where his priorities are.Me,Myself and my guns go figure.

    August 9, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. chunk a chunk

    But most Amerians think those people died only on TV, not in their real life.

    August 9, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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