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. James

    This is a completely biased, and tainted poll. CNN has NEVER performed a valid poll and this is no exception

    December 19, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Guy Smiley

    Crappy survey. They slant the questions and then add up the results of more than one answer to try to get a number that they can promote. Even then it is barely over 50%

    I am surprised their survey didn't have two responses:

    1. Are you in favor of no restrictions for firearms, including full access by criminals or mental patients
    2. Do you think there should be some rules around gun ownership

    December 19, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. berticode

    Haha look at these bloodthirsty gun nuts get ticked off.

    December 19, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. martin

    Change is in the air. It didn't happen when gun violence was perceived to be a problem of the poor or of minorities but now that it has crept into all levels of society, something will be done about it. It is a basic truth: if you want to know what will be happening in your society in ten years, look what is happening at the perimeter.

    December 19, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. Ravito

    Yeah well, a majority of Americans polled over several months showed that they didn't want Obamacare, often by a fairly wide margin. Didn't seem to matter to the President, Nancy Pelosi, etc. However, I suspect many who thought it should be passed despite public opposition are now trumpeting "support" for gun control or elimination as evidence that such laws should be passed.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. jody p

    It was an international poll, which to me implies they asked 620 people who probably dont want us armed if we should be armed. And 53% of them said it wouldnt change the violence here. Way to shoot yourself in your own foot cnn.( pun intended)

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Bill

    Nothing is going to come of this. The media hype is all that is keeping this thing going. We have a government that needs to be focused on the fiscal cliff, and long term solvency of this country, not a random act of violence by a deranged person.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. DL

    Today I went to 3 different gun shops, they were slammed full.....there was a guy who bought 7,000 rounds for an assault weapon today. And when I questioned why on God's earth he would need so much, the response I got was "have to protect ourselves from Obama"...this is why we need gun control people, this mentality of it's 'our country' (completely ignoring the other 150 million Americans that don't agree with them) has turned into a sickness. The lunatic fringe in this country is growing, and quite frankly people can't be trusted with military grade weapons anymore.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. berticode

    Lol look at the gun nuts all worried. You should be. You have the blood of the 20 innocent angels and several others on your hand. NRA – you are going down!!!

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Lobby

    I am for gun control. But, it is never a good idea for only the police and military and governments to have guns. We should also restrict the guns police and the military use. The types of clips or magazines bullet size should be restricted also. Police should have have Glocks with 15 rounds in a magazine.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Any one has brain will go for GUN-CONTROL LAW. Ok.,

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. JD

    This is the same 52% that voted for Obama. No mention of where they made this survey. Try asking this question in the midwest or the south. These fools will never understand that outlawing guns wouldn't have meant no kids killed or fewer kids. A screwed up in the head individual like this kid in CT with so much hate will find a way to kill. Magazines of less that 10 rounds? How long do these idiots think it takes to change a mag? Do they really believe that a 357 magnum pistol with speed loaders is safer because the shooter would have to reload more? While I am not against reasonable gun limits (I wouldnt buy a 50cal sniper rifle.... dont need one) but the term reasonable is the issue. Dont tell me automatic weapons create violence. Automatics (i.e. machine guns) have been against the law since the 30s. Everyone likes to claim America has more guns in households per capita than any other industrialized country. Really? Ever heard of Austria? Every household has an automatic weapon or more than one because all of the men (I believe thru age 65) are members of the army reserves and the govt issues them a military automatic rifle. They dont have mass killings like we do here because the culture is different and they dont glorify violence. Also if you commit a gun crime there they crush you legally. Should be the same way here. Reasonable sounds like a great way to determine gun control but reasonable in whose opinion? The Rachel Maddow's or Ed Schultzs of the world? Punish criminals and if you dont want a gun then dont buy one but leave my fredoms alone.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. joe22

    Gun can't sold to anyone with mental health issue is obvious. But now, we can conclude that guns can't be sold to anyone who has a relative with mental health problem. By the principle of obvious.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Tony

    Taking away my rights because someone else abused theirs or others is not a solution.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. berticode

    Time to give up guns and do a more creative hobby.

    December 19, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. S.A. Wolf

    There have been 258 killed including those at Columbine in almost 14 years. Murder is already illegal, the issue isn't guns it's the depraved beasts who use them to harm others. Funny how the murder in chicago doesn't elicit the same response,as in a suburban community.

    December 19, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Jake

    Banning assault rifles or guns all together will not solve anything other than taking them away from the reponsible law abiding citizens. Pure evil psychos who want to kill will find a way. Look at timothy mcveigh, he didn't even use a gun. Conneticut has strict gun laws. Chicago and and Washington have some of the strictest gun laws in the country yet they have some of the highest crime rates in the country due to gun violence. Norway has very strict gun control yet it didnt' stop that lunatic from getting a gun and murdering 69 people in 2011.

    December 19, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. rico

    we need to arm our teachers...i dont know but im keeping my guns

    December 19, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. james

    Take the money that it will cost to try and enforce a ban on weapons and spend it on mental health. That's where the problem is.

    December 19, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Shuffler

    You are always going to see people reactionary after some terrible event like this. Cooler heads will prevail when more thought and less feelings are involved. The greatest changes we need now are in how our people with mental issues are handled.

    December 19, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. angela

    I've got to find another news source...

    December 19, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. tony partrige

    do you think a ban on guns would stop the bad guys from get them,don't think so.need to arm the teachgers with guns or at lest the princable.guns don't kill people,people kill people.drunk drives kill people so all booze should be baned.your talking about the same thing.guns are not the problem it is the nuts we let run loose. the second amendment says we can bear arms so it stay that way.

    December 19, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. AaronAbraham

    That's a ridiculous and completely unreasonable point. Nancy Lanza was asleep in her bed. If she had been awake with a gun could it have made a difference? Absolutely.

    December 19, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. whta

    This was an unfair poll they rammed down without allowing more people time to vote in it.

    December 19, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. The REAL Truth...

    @Sheepleherder – If guns are banned, it's not going to create criminals, it's going to create victims. The criminals already have their guns, why in the world would they surrender them.
    No it's not going to create victims.. not long term. This is the same lame argument always put forth by the pro-gun lobby. Sure criminals have guns.. if the penalty is stiff enough, or the incentive to give them up large enough (eg: 10% bounty premium on turning them in no questions asked) then it will not happen.
    No-one is suggesting banning all weapons. I recommend ALL handguns and automatic weapons. The general public has no need for those types of weapons. None!
    The senseless ongoing hold over the right to bear arms (in a conveniently ignored "well regulated militia") written over 200 yrs ago is hardly relevant in today's world. It's time to change it.

    December 19, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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