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. Brad

    Outlaw guns and the only ones with guns will be outlaws*...(*Hint for libs: criminals don't care about gun control laws...)

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

    People don't seem to understand the context of the second amendment. Because there was no standing army, the people were permitted to have guns, so that when a militia was called....people would have guns. That kind of became obsolete right around the Civil War.

    August 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. john

    I still wonder how they got their data, how can 1,010 Americans account for the ideals of 120 million gun oweners?

    Still people fail to see that gun restrictions will not prevent acts like this from happening, because Holmes and laughner, both should not have been about Owen guns, but since neither the police nor the colleges, nor the psychiatrist did their jobs, sadly we must all pay the price

    August 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Y

    Yes, we will need to protect ourself from our Government at some point soon most likely, as we try to take back this great country that has been sold out.

    August 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. FromtheSouth

    People have been killed with rocks before. I think we need to ban them all and anything else anyone has ever been killed by....just being a littel sarcastic, sorry. People kill people, regardless of what they choose to do it with. It is the hatred in one's own heart for another human being that births murder. I don't mind it if we have to have back ground checks to get weapons or whatever, but don't try and tell me that I can't have a gun.

    August 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. HawkeyeState

    It amuses me that people believe that banning guns will reduce our crime rate, murders, and public shooting such as what happened in Colorado. Criminals are going to have guns regardless, it's always been that way, and it's going to continue to be that way. Making stricter gun laws is going to do the opposite of what you gun-haters want. There is going to be more crime, criminals will not have to think of who or where they are going to rob, and the economy won't have the proceeds without the sale of guns and the ammunation/accessories that are purchased with them.

    August 9, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |

    None of the victims in the theater had a gun to protect themselves. Some folks wish it was that way everywhere. If you choose to be a victim fine... do not try to make my family be victims with you.

    August 9, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. BC

    Those who advocate a ban on all guns have forgotten their world history, or were never taught it in the first place. Over and over again when the populace gets disarmed the rulers turn on them. As sad and tragic as these shootings are, we cannot give up our weapons, because while unspoken, they are known to keep governments in check.

    This coming from a guy who owns just 1 handgun and hopes I never have to use it.

    August 9, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. HA25

    Wake up, Gun Hater. If your concern really is saving lives, there are many more things that kill innocent people every day then guns. Things that have no value beside people wanting them. Smoking, Motorcycles, Alcohol, junk food. Heck, Deer kill more innocent people a year. All of these cost society more as well in terms of caring for those injured and sick, or impacts on others, as a result of them.
    Start there. By the time you get to Guns, the Sun will have exploded.

    August 9, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Icyhott

    Q: Will you continue a reasonable discussion towards an end that might lead somewhere or is this an exercise in futility?
    A: Since what you consider to be reasonable isn't even in the same plane of reality with what I consider reasonable, probably not.Allow me to explain.I hear a lot about "compromise" from your camp ... except, it's not compromise.Let's
    say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS"
    written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say,
    "Give me that cake."I say, "No, it's my cake."You say,
    "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of
    this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."I say, "No, it's my cake."You
    say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I
    get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.So,
    we have your compromise - let us call this one the Gun Control Act of
    1968 - and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.This
    time you take several bites - we'll call this compromise the Clinton
    Executive Orders - and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always
    been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.Then we
    compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and
    Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the
    School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing
    Freyja, my finger!)I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a
    large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY
    CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and
    wondering "why we won't compromise".I'm done with being
    reasonable, and I'm done with compromise. Nothing about gun control in
    this country has ever been "reasonable" nor a genuine "compromise".

    August 9, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. rosemary

    Poor Paul can't understand why no one has walked into an NRA Convention and shot up the place. Perhaps because people at a NRA Convention have their own firearms, and might return fire. People who like to shoot up places, choose locations that are "gun free" so they know they are the only ones with a firearm. Very few people go to a gun range and try and kill people there. DUH!

    August 9, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. JJ

    Raul; "I am still confused as to why someone has not walked into a NRA convention and shot up the place. Wonder if their stance would change if that happened?"
    The bad guy would not dare because all of the NRA people would be armed and protect themselves. It is the gun-control cities that these idiots go to take people out. They are to much of a couard to do it in a state with "lax" gun laws. Remember a trained lawful gunowner does not need the Police, the police are there to take reports and investigate after ther fact. Guns are for your protection when seconds count and your precious polce are minutes/hours away......former police officer.

    August 9, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. Theodosius

    It's sad that American kids don't grow up with the same confidence as European kids, that they probably won't get shot at some point. Not that they will; but the chances are a lot higher. It's nice to live in a place where the vast majority of people have never even seen a hand gun.

    August 9, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Bob from Pittsburgh

    I don't think the intent is to take guns away from law abiding citizens, but to keep them away from mentaly ill people..

    August 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Bob

    Are all these gun-crazy Americans part of a "well regulated militia" as the Second Amendment stipulates? I didn't think so. When will Americans finally get tired of being such a violent society with a gun-murder rate that far exceeds that of any other advanced country? And no, NRA members, the two most recent mass murders could NOT have been carried out "just as easily" by someone armed only with a knife – get real.

    August 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Doug

    1. Guns don't kill people: True, but the number of people you can kill in a shorter amount of time than say a bat or knife is greater.
    2. I hunt. I need a gun: People hunted for thousands of years without a firearm. Grab a bow and arrow.
    3. It's our 'God given right': Please show me the bible verse.
    4. It's in the Constitution: Is each citizen a well regulated militia?

    August 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Security or Liberty?

    We need to protect ourselves, families and property.

    Whether it be criminals or Tyranny.

    Look at where we're headed.

    No Speech Zones.
    Can't assemble anywhere near a political figure.
    You're told what insurance to buy and what drinks to buy.
    Patriot Act.

    And now they want to disarm the American people.

    August 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. SeeThruIt2

    I saw one comment that said assault rifles are weapons of war designed to kill a lot of people.

    Sorry, but I must disagree.

    Hunting rifles are designed to kill quickly. (Hunters don't want to chase a wounded deer through the woods.) Weapons like the M-16 were designed to do a lot of damage, while leaving a soldier wounded and requiring his buddy's assistance.

    August 9, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Pete B

    Are there really people that would want to ban "all" gun ownership? Including hunting weapons?

    Wow, hopefully these were mainly women. What kind of "real" man would want to do such a thing?

    Maybe we need to do some research and find out why American men are becoming so effeminate. Seriously!

    August 9, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. gw

    This is a ridiculous poll. Most Americans approve of some gun restrictions to improve safety and this poll asks the respondent to take an extreme position-the choices are 1.) opposed to all controls for 2) total ban. Even gun owners favor restrictions on semiautomatic weapons, few would favor allowing people to buy a tank, and most would say you shouldn't be able to buy a gun at a gun show without some evidence that you are not a criminal or insane.

    August 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Dr. Brian

    If we use gun control logic, we must also rid this country of automobiles, they kill people everyday. How many people are killed by power tool???? Better get rid of them, too. What else can we rid this country of? How about common sense, we're not far from it now.

    August 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Security or Liberty?

    So it's okay for the government to arm Al-Qaeda Rebels in Syria and Libya but it's not okay for the American people to arm themselves?

    August 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. American

    He America: stop this NRA and its destroing business

    August 9, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. JohnnyZ

    Anyone ever thought about punishing mass murderers using firearms with an exceptionally distasteful punishment? Loughner will live out the rest of his life with free healthcare, 3 meals and probably an exercise yard to enjoy.

    Electrocution, beheading, castration, hanging....sure it sounds outrageous. What do you think shooting up a movie theater is? Humane?

    I understand many of these types die in the process of carrying out the crime, but for those who do not, why are we so soft?

    August 9, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. russ

    I want my gun and I don't care how many people have to die for me to own one.

    August 9, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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