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. Joe

    If guns don't kill people and people kill people, then why does the US have one of the highest incidents of gun violence in the world?

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

    Guns don't kill people. But people with guns kill more people without guns – than people without guns kill people with guns.

    August 9, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Scott

    Ignorance is bliss? Cars are responsible for more death and destruction in America than guns, why don't people demand their removal!
    Perhaps the people thinking that gun restrictions would stop shootings haven't read the papers lately? We can't stop 100's of tons of illegal drugs from crossing our border, do you honestly think that the cartels would hesitate to start shipping guns if we made them illegal?

    August 9, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "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."

    Depends on the gun. Holmes, the kid who messed up the Batman premier, was using an AR-15 semi-auto.... a "civilian version" of the M-16...which is capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute. Even one round per 0.5 seconds is pretty darn fast by any reasonable standard (go look at a video). The only reason he didn't do even more damage with it is because he used a drum magazing (100 round capacity) which caused the gun to jam BECAUSE HE WAS FIRING SO FAST, because it has a tendency to do so when fired rapidly.

    August 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. Joe

    Granted these are tragedies, but if you do the math and look at the facts, the number of 'mass shootings' has remained stable (about 2 dozen a year) since the 1960s and the number of people killed in them has remained stable as well. And the number of mass shootings, or even murders, remains a EXTREMELY small percentage of gun owners or guns in private ownership.

    If you're really concerned about saving the most number of lives, ban cell phones! According the DOJ statistics, about 250 people per year are killed using rifles of any kind (including those evil assault weapon look-alikes [they are not fully-automatic assault weapons]). The DOT says that about 6000 people are killed by distracted drivers, almost all of whom are talking on the phone or texting. If you ban cell phones (or at least program them to be disabled while driving – easy to do) you will save 24 times as many people as are killed using those evil guns. Where is the outrcry over texting or cell phones while driving?

    August 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Debits-n-Credits

    Does it really matter where Americans stand on this issue?

    The lobbyists have already purchased the support of our politicians.

    August 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Matt

    Lets hold people responsible for their actions, thats the key! Its just a hot button topic, and a rallying cry for the liberals, who like to exploit these types of incidents. If they were really out to do good. They would try to ban Mustangs, Camaros, four wheel drive vehicles, drugs, Boating, Sports, Four wheelers and motorcycles, Cheeseburgers,etc. etc., well I hope you get the point. Dont ever give up your rights without a fight. it doesnt matter if youre on the left or youre right. The constitution and the bill of rights is for all of us, if you use that right or not is youre choice! Remember this theres several hundred million guns in america that are owned by your neighbors and friends, they didnt go on a rampage! Thers over a million active duty and reserve military with access to all kinds of weapons, none of them went on a rampage. the policeman in the car next to you at the stop light or the secret service agents with the president didnt go on a rampage. So this notion that a firearm that may look a certain way somehow makes you go crazy is absurd! Again I hold people responsible for there actions, not a object. If gun control laws work, then Chicago, New york, and all of California should be the safest places on Earth! They are not! I live in California!

    August 9, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Jerry5555

    Yeah, lets take all the guns away from everyone because a whopping 5 people a year commit these horrific crimes, which the media spends months politically exploiting.

    Fact – A vast majority of gun crimes are committed by people who are unlawfully in possession of guns.
    Fact – The media rarely every covers a story where guns have played a role in stopping a criminal.
    Fact – The media is predominantly Liberal, and a majority of Liberal are for gun control.
    Fact – Much of the country has very strong family unity involving guns, hungting, fishing, and recreational shooting, which dates back centuries. Nearly a 100% of these activities are peaceful, but are never covered by the media.

    If you want to stop violence, then get these people jobs, get them educated, and enforce the laws we presently have in affect.

    Finally, no matter what you do, there will always be some nut who will harm others. Don't punish hundreds of millions for the acts of a very few.

    August 9, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Marti58

    What we need desperately is a Constitutional ban on all weapons.Period!!
    This is the Western Hemisphere, and we're living in the 21 century. Nothing else makes sense but a complete ban. I'm glad I'm reading more and more bloggers supporting severe restrictions or a complete ban of these horrific instruments of murder. We can always call 911. I'd feel a lot safer if I knew only police officers, FBI agents etc. carried gowns legally.
    There is something wrong with people who "love their guns".
    P.S. Background check?? the Joker's criminal history included only 1 speeding ticket..

    August 9, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Orso

    At this moment, a ban on guns would only mean removing guns only from law abiding citizens. Criminals will not give them up, and they never registered them in the first place.

    We can only control assault weapons, those are not designed for self-protection and the only people that have them are to commit crimes or because they are and more movie short of going postal.

    August 9, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Rachel

    Gun control isn't going to be dealt with during an election year. It's the kiss of death to any candidate who tries.

    August 9, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. jland

    There is so much misinformation given to the general public regarding guns, some of this is due to sensationalizing for ratings and some as a result of political lean.

    They try and lump semi autos in with military assault type weapons. almost every gun made in the last hundred years is semi auto meaning that you fire one round every time you pull the trigger. All AR-15's and Most AK 47 sold in the US are semi-auto, they have been civilianized and are no more or less dangerous that any off the shelf hunting rifle although they look more sinister.

    If you buy into limiting the amount of ammo a gun will hold keep in mind a practiced person can change out a magazine in less than 1 second and it would be almost impossible to prevent someone intent on harm from getting one of the 100 million regular magazines in circulation.

    August 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. makak

    The right to bear arms does not mean the right to own whichever and however many guns you want. There are limits to everything, and we need stricter rules on those. Perhaps we should limit the arms to whatever they had in the 1700s when this amendment was passed! That's what this amendment was based on.

    August 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Juliemac

    The problem isnt that he could ge tthe weapon, but that a qualified person, reported his behavior as potentially dangerous and the upper mangt. ignored the porblem.
    We all know the result.

    And for those that want to ban ALL guns? So you think the same people who are stopping all the drugs coming from Mexico will stop the back flow of weapons? Do you really think the criminals will hand in their weapons? If Sso, I have a bridge I need to sell....

    August 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Mike in Wisconsin

    I lived in Japan, which has strong gun control, for 2 years (military service) and was able to go ANYWHERE in that country without fear! Imagine that! The Japanese have a stronger respect for one another unlike here in the U.S. which also accounts for the low crime!

    August 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    "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.
    And only a government can take it away. And along with many other freedoms since the people would now be powerless.

    August 9, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Durundal

    I feel like there are simply too many idiots brandishing firearms to protect their right to not pay for things, not accept others, or to be flagrant public nuisances. I would be amused if there were severe regulations, not because it would curtail criminals in any way from getting firearms, but rather would force the 'patriots' to give up the tough guy routine and actually be....productive. I love how everyone talks tough, about using guns to 'put em down' but the reality is trained our not, unless you know whats about to happen, your jaw is just flapping in the breeze

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Bulldog8

    Back in 2003 we (members of the US Army) were conducting random traffic control points to search for and sieze weapons from Iraqi civilians. We found out that within weeks of starting this process, Ali Babba (our term for any thief) was setting up TCP's a couple of miles north of us. They new that all civilians would be unarmed after passing our checkpoint, so they would rob the helpless civilians or would do worse if they caught Kurds. Whats the lesson? We all know and understand that criminals don't obey laws. Do the anti-gun people really believe that criminals won't have guns if they are made illegal? Would you want to live in a house with a big sign saying "I can't or won't protect myself" The police will come and collect the evidence of your crime after you have left and done your worst.

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. vic , nashville ,tn

    Question should be who have gun ?

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. alysandir

    Before we talking of banning anything, can we at least agree that an informed, educated public is a necessity for making sound decisions that impact our Constitutional rights? Fear tactics and hyperbole are used in lieu of fact by both Second Amendment proponents and opponents to get their agendas across to the American people, because they know people are ruled by their emotions, and won't bother educating themselves before forming an opinion. Much of what is being said about firearms in the media today is simply untrue or worse, a perversion of the truth.

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Tesla

    I feel like I need one of those little bouncing sing-along cues, just so I can get people to repeat these points until they are burned into their memory:
    -Assault weapons are select fire or fully automatic weapons designed to fire more than one bullet per trigger pull. They generally fall into the categorys of assault rifle, battle rifle, automatic rifle, sub-machine gun, light machine gun, general purpose machine gun, heavy machine gun, machine pistol, or automatic shotgun, although there are outliers.
    -A semi-automatic pistol is not an assault weapon. Period.
    -Just because a rifle is scary and black doesn't mean it's an assault weapon.
    -Even if it was, someone just spraying is less dangerous than a person taking careful, aimed shots.
    -The 100 round magazine used in Aurora WAS responsible for more death than a 30 round magazine would have been. Had the AR-15, firing .223 caliber rounds that would most likely create pencil wounds (through-and-through with little cavitation) not jammed due to the extremely unreliable 100 round magazine, Holmes wouldn't have switched to the handguns and shotgun, which squash and don't penetrate (causing more cavitation and bleeding out, thus death).
    Finally, the most important point...
    -The reason gun ownership is a right is to protect the American people from threats to the nation, both foreign AND domestic. The Second Amendment was written in a time when a bloody revolution against a tyrannical government had just occured, so it was kind of on people's minds. And never think that we couldn't be a tyranny. There have been plenty of politicians who would jump at the chance to rule with an iron fist.

    A handgun protects your body. A shotgun protects your home. A rifle protects your rights.

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Howard

    Americans should be more concerned with Obama becoming s our dictator ... like Hugo Chavez ... than whether a few nuts end up abusing our second amendment.

    August 9, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. rdeleys

    Hey AshleyM512, by your twisted logic there should be no laws of any kind on the books. After all, we have laws against murder, but people still commit murder. We have laws to regulate society and delineate the divide between what we have decided is acceptable and what isn't. What you advocate is pure anarchy.

    August 9, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Dave Jaipersaud

    You can only help those that want to help themselves. I guess we will never lean from mistakes and we are destained for more unnecessary and seseless shootings.

    August 9, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Dude

    Semi-automatics are simply self-loading firearms and have been around since the 1900s. The loading mechanism is found in many mainstream hunting, target shooting, and self-defense firearms. As a gun collector, I appreciate the option of ordering obscure calibers of ammunition via the internet. It's expensive and hard to find ammunition for many collectable arms at local shops. Restrictions on high capacity magazines don't make sense because someone can easily tape two magazines together for quick reloads, carry multiple guns, or make their own high capacity magazine. It's nice to have a extra magazine capacity at the range or if you are a Korean grocer in Los Angeles.

    However, it doesn't always have to be gun owners versus liberal, tofu-eating, birkenstock wearing, communist, hippy freaks. As a gun owner, I will support government spending for better mental health services, speedier updates to the criminal background check system, suspension of gun rights with due process for those who are subject to a restraining order, changes to HIPAA to allow mental health professionals and doctors to warn authorities of potentially dangerous mentally ill people, and involuntary commitment of people with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses.

    August 9, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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