CNN Poll: Bare majority now support major gun restrictions
December 19th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Bare majority now support major gun restrictions

Washington (CNN) - Americans are reacting to the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut with elevated levels of anger, shock and fear that have led a growing number of people to look for action from the government and society that can prevent future incidents, according to a new national survey.

And the CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday also indicates that a bare majority now favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban on gun ownership by ordinary citizens and more than six in ten favor a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles.

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The survey was conducted Monday and Tuesday, following Friday's horrific incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 young children and six adults.

Forty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say that that government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence. That's up 13 percentage points from January 2011, following a shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona that left six dead and some, including then Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, severely injured. A 53% majority still believes that attacks will continue to happen regardless of any action taken, but that's down 13 points from January 2011.

"Any changes in attitudes towards guns and gun violence are likely due to the highly emotional reaction many Americans have had to the recent shootings," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

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Just over eight in ten express shock and anger over the events in Connecticut, with nearly half saying they feel fearful in response to the shootings.

"All of those numbers are much higher than they were in a CNN poll conducted in January, 2011, indicating that the tragedy in Connecticut may be affecting more Americans more intensely than other recent attacks," added Holland.

Does that translate into a call for greater restrictions on guns?

The number of Americans who favor major restrictions or an outright ban has typically hovered just under the 50% mark in recent years; now that number is just over 50%. According to the poll 52% say they favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal. That's a five point rise from a CNN survey conducted in early August, following the mass shooting in July at a movie theater in suburban Denver, Colorado that left 12 dead, and shootings two weeks later at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where six people were killed. The five point rise is within the poll's sampling error.

Forty-three percent say last Friday's elementary school shootings in Connecticut makes them more likely to support gun control laws, a 15 point increase from January 2011 following the Arizona incident. Half of those questioned say the school shootings have not changed their opinions on gun control, down 19 points from January 2011.

On specific proposals, the American public has had a clear and consistent position for years. There is nearly unanimous support for background checks and more than nine in ten believe that some people, such as convicted felons and people with mental health problems, should be prevented from owning guns. Nearly eight in ten favor gun restrictions laws and 62% support a ban on semi-automatic assault guns and also high-capacity ammunition clips. Fifty-two percent oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own.

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The survey indicates the expected partisan divide on gun control. Nearly eight in ten Democrats say they favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban. That number drops to 42% among independents and 31% among Republicans. There's also a gender gap, with 41% of men saying say support major restrictions or an outright ban, with that number jumping to 62% among women.

The poll's release comes on the same day that President Barack Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an administration effort to develop recommendations no later than January for preventing another tragedy like last week's elementary school shooting.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International December 17-18, with 620 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll
soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. TexasMom

    Restricting gun ownership will solve NOTHING! Bad people will always find a way to carry out their deeds. Those who own weapons should LOCK THEM UP (were the ones used last Friday locked up from a son w/ a mental illness? no one is talking about that....). Arm well-trained citizens and bad guys will think twice. Ever wonder why these massacres occur in dwellings that restrict weapons: churches, movie theatre's, schools, malls, on and on. Coincidence? I doubt it.

    December 19, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    The tide is turning ...

    Action, please.

    December 19, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Inde Di

    6 year old lying on the floor with multiple gunshots in their tiny chests. Imagine the confusion when they looked up as the shooter entered the classroom watching their classmates getting gunned down one by one, waiting for their turn, crying out for their mums and dads? At that age, all they should have been worried about was will Santa briing them what they asked for. Instead some rich and pampered kid with assault rifles at his disposal decided to come and execute them. who this move.

    December 19, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. EatThemUpYum

    Face it people, CNN only published this so that talking heads (Big O among them) can quote it. Politics, and CNN is just a pawn.

    December 19, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Gman

    American's are certainly proficient at the proverbial "knee-jerk" reaction.

    December 19, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Nitehawk

    620 pollsters – hmmmm, kinda makes you wonder who's personal rolladex was used – media headlining at it's best, again.

    December 19, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. chris

    Liberals: let's take America back from gun nuts!

    (But it's ok for Obozo to proliferate assault rifles to Mexican cartels!)

    December 19, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Facts

    Anyone that supports another assault weapons ban should read the research on the last one when considering possible solutions to our problems with gun violence. I am all for tighter regulations, but the ban on assault rifles really doesn't make much sense in the context of trying to prevent gun crime across the country.

    I don't support the idea of banning all guns, but that would actually make sense as opposed to targeting assault rifles specifically. Ideally, we should tighten regulations through more background checks and stiffer negligence penalties. Also, ban high capacity magazines RETROACTIVELY. 10 Round magazines should be our limit. Enforce that ban with stiff penalties. I say this as someone that owns them. I will gladly give up a high capacity magazine. If you read the research, that's the only mitigating factor in lethality of assault weapons other than the ability to conceal – which doesn't apply to assault rifles.

    December 19, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. Free American Citizen

    100 MILLION gun owners in America.

    Come and try to take 'em from us.

    December 19, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Van Krunk

    I'd be curious to see what the same poll shows in 30/60 days.

    December 19, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    GUns don't kill people....current gun policy kills people.

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. tom

    Take America back biglio? Have you read the 2nd Amendment you knuckle-dragging moron?

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. Jhonnypatriot

    more False info posted by the CENTRAL NAZI NETWORK, I mean CNN

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. chris

    Obozo Administration:

    US citizens cannot have assault rifles but Mexican cartels CAN!

    That's gonna sell well and ignite something ugly.

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. tom

    For all the idiots that claim they want a gun for self defense... How many people are murdered by guns in this country each year? Over 10 thousand. How many murders are prevented by citizens with guns? Damn few. The best weapon for self defense in the home is a shotgun, not a semiautomatic rifle or pistol.

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. TexasNative

    So basically 52% are in favor of risking a civil upheaval so they can finally get their gun ban? I'm a lifelong gun owner and a strong advocate for gun rights but even I have gotten to the point where I feel something needs to be done. We have some excellent gun laws in place but the problem exists with crooked dealers who will sell to anyone. Wouldn't be a bad idea to start forcing individuals to obtain a license to own ANY type of firearm and make them only valid for one to two years at a time. Also hold individuals accountable for the guns they already own. As a former FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) i.e. "Arms Dealer", I know how easy it is for someone to buy a weapon and walk right out the door and hand over to just anybody. As a dealer I was forced to log each and every firearm I sold. I have had a couple occasions where the ATF would call me for a weapon trace and I would tell them exactly where the weapon went. If we hold the original buyer of the firearm liable for ANY damage done after they have purchased a weapon I can assure you that people will stop "losing" their guns, they won't be able to just sell them outright, and they'll take better care to protect their guns. For example, you buy a gun from me as a dealer, I have all of your personal information (including your SSN) and I log it as usual during the course of the transaction. If you walk out the door and make your weapon available to someone, blatantly hand it over, or you decide to sell it at some point then YOU should be held accountable for anything that happens. If someone gets their hand on your gun and kills 20 school children then YOU go down with the person who committed the crime. It's plain and simple. The solution isn't just to ban guns from everyone so that only the criminals are armed. The solution is found in using common sense to solve the problem. I, for one, will not ever allow any of my weapons to be taken from me (as is the sentiment with most of us Southerners). You're going to have to COME AND TAKE THEM! Wake up you bleeding heart idiots. 99% of gun owners are just as fed up with these idiots getting guns as you are. The difference is many of us KNOW the solution to this problem lies in enforcing the laws we already have MUCH more sternly.

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "now its an outright BAN..... this is snowballing into something that is going to spin out of control."

    All they did was ask the question. Nobody is proposing an outright ban on being allowed to own a gun. Lay off the meth.

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. CNNuthin

    STOP Putting Gun Control and Gun Bans together. They are two completely different things with two completely different groups. We need a more involved centralized system to fix all the problems and track gun and ammo sales like car sales. Insurance, maybe. Who knows. But to consider banning guns of any type is insane. How to you enforce that one without going against "Illegal Search and Seizure"

    December 19, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. bfpiercelk

    We had this same ban about 8 years ago, it wasn't effective. This just proves that after a tragedy people forget what's been done in the past and don't think using their brains.

    Also 620 people for a poll is just, wow, are we as a nation complete idiots when it comes to statistics?

    December 19, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Data Driven

    To the poster at the top:

    Um, can you say "already tried it in 1861 and lost"?

    And to the rest: are these the same invalid polls that showed Obama ahead in the Presidential race last month? I'm sorry that reality isn't working out for you.

    December 19, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. hardrockfootballfanatic

    I favor the banning of assault weapons and tougher restrictions on who can own a gun. We don't need more guns in this country, we need less.

    December 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Peter

    Why even poll about an outright ban? SOCTUS already ruled that people have the right to own guns individually, so that's impossible.

    December 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    "major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban on gun ownership " are two completely different points of opinion, why clump them together if your not propping up your own agenda?

    December 19, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. JohnO

    It is impossible to stop a man who is willing to die. Impossible. Many states are too loose with their restrictions and that affects the rest of us. To suggest that any measure the government can reasonably hope to take will "prevent" another large scale public shooting is to perpetrate a lie upon the American people for cynical, political gain. We have always been a nation of riflemen. Recent high profile, horrific acts asside, we have never dealt with events such as this coming so frequently on the heals of one another. Any firearm with a magazine capacity over 10 is a formidible weapon. The tern "assault rifle" is meaningless. Measures that might be somwhat effective in the long term include limiting magazine size to 10 rounds, serious and meaningfull background checks with multiple, independent character references required, and, dare I say, the registration of all handguns. Handguns are the problem statistically. Rifles of any kind represent a tiny fraction of firearms used in crime. Require safes and other locking devices and provide for civil liability if an unsecured firearm is stolen and used in a crime. Put the onus on the gun owner to secure their weapon or face the consequences. But niether you nor I want to live in a society where the government has a monopoly on firearms. If the firearm community refuses even those reasonabe measures, be prepared for worse as the GOP is in long term decline and more Democrats are/will be elected to office and appointed to the judiciary. I am the moderate NRA.

    December 19, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Logic

    Pretty sure 100% of law abiding people are for taking guns away from criminals. Let's do it.

    December 19, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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