January 16th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN/Time Poll: Slight dip in support for gun control measures in last month

Washington (CNN) - There is strong support from Americans for many of the proposals to curb gun violence that President Barack Obama announced Wednesday, but according to a new national poll, public support has slipped a bit when compared to surveys taken immediately after last month's mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

A CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll also indicates that Americans generally favor stricter gun control and think that it is too easy to buy guns in this country, but they don't believe that stricter gun laws would reduce gun violence all by themselves.

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The poll's Wednesday release comes a few hours after the president proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence in the wake last month's massacre, where a suicidal gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the survey, 56% support a ban on semi-automatic guns, but that's down from 62% in a CNN poll taken in the days after the shooting at Sandy Hook. The same is true for a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips - 62% in December, down to 58% now - as well as a requirement for all gun owners to register their firearms with the local government - 78% last month, down to 69% now.

"Those changes are likely due to the passage of time, as the initial shock of the Newtown tragedy has begun to wear off, and may indicate why the White House has put the gun issue on a fast track," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The survey indicates Americans are evenly divided on restricting ammunition purchases, but they strongly favor background checks at all levels - 92% want them at gun stores, 87% want them at gun shows, and 75% favor background checks even for person-to-person transactions between individuals.

Attitudes toward Obama's gun proposals vary widely in many key demographics. It's not surprising that Democrats strongly favor and Republicans strongly oppose the President's gun initiatives. But there are gender and generation gaps as well. Two-thirds of women, for example, favor a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, while a majority of men oppose such a ban. Support for that proposal is nine points higher among people over 50 years old than it is among younger Americans. Those patterns repeat on many other gun proposals.

The poll indicates that the landscape is shifting on both sides of the debate.

"Gun control supporters may feel more strongly about the issue than in past years, but the attitudes of gun owners have also shifted," adds Holland. "A majority of Americans who live in a household with a gun now say that the federal government is trying to take away their right to own a gun; in the 1990s, a plurality of people in gun households didn't see it that way."

According to the poll, personal security is also a growing issue. In the 1990s, most people in gun households said that they owned a weapon mostly for sporting purposes, with only one in five saying their guns were for protection from crime. Now, the number who say their guns are mostly for protection has grown to nearly a third of all gun households.

The survey also indicates that 55% of Americans generally favor stricter gun control laws, with 56% saying that it's currently too easy to buy guns in this country. But only 39% say that stricter gun controls would reduce gun violence all by themselves.

"That's mostly because only a quarter of Americans say that the availability of guns is the primary reason for gun violence in the country. More Americans blame gun violence on popular culture or the way parents raise their children," says Holland.

That may also be a reason why a majority of Americans (54%-45%) favor armed guards in every school in the country although that proposal does not restrict guns in any way, and why a plurality (47%-40%) say that armed guards would do more to reduce gun violence in schools than stricter gun control laws would.

The proposal on guards in schools came from the National Rifle Association, and according plurality say that they generally agree with the NRA's positions. The gun rights organization has successfully fought against the passage of gun control legislation in Congress over the past decade.

"The does not mean that Americans agree with every position the NRA takes on gun control - polls have repeatedly and consistently shown high support for proposals the NRA opposes - but the poll does indicate that the NRA's overall approach resonates with many Americans," adds Holland.

The poll was conducted for CNN and Time Magazine by ORC International Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 14-15), with 814 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Interesting pie graphs; ALL THREE of them go against what the administration claims and is trying to do.

    January 16, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Thisis ridulious, bammans kids are protected by armed guards, so his kids are better than yours???"

    Not to discourage you or anything, because I really do love the damage you guys do by clinging to that irrational and offensive crap, but you do realize that LaPierre already had to try to explan and walk back the ad, don't you? The vast majority of people find that argument to be petty, ridiculous, irrational and patently and egregiously offensive. Unfortunately for you and the NRA, you can't put those turds back in the dog...so repeat it all you'd like...it's helping those of us arguing for more gun safety measures, not you and the rest of the gun nut cabal.

    January 16, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Ryan Hartmann

    @RichardJamieson: How well have your state's "stringent gun ownership laws" worked out in Detroit?

    January 16, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Paul

    We needed a poll to prove Americans have the same memory of a tapeworm?

    January 16, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. Jakk

    Looks like most Americans like guns.

    January 16, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. ralf

    There are NO LAWS to stop someone with a GUN from doing harm,LOOK AT PHILLY,CHICAGO,ETC..,UNLESS YOU ALSO HAVE A GUN.

    January 16, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. KLM

    Unfortunately, they will keep buying until their child, grandchild, niece, nephew, brother or sister is one of the victims of a horrendous crime and then they have to look down on their innocent face in a casket. That's when the reality sits in that 'they are supporting the evil' in this country. Then, and only then, will they put the guns down. One thing for sure, you can't be at your child's school and at work at the same time. Therefore, it's pointless to say you are protecting your family. Most crimes do not occur at night....

    January 16, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Marvin McKemie

    Someone really needs to bring President Obama up to speed on the Dick Act of 1902.

    January 16, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. bostonboy

    I've gone to couple different news sites and have read many different comments on the issue. I'm a gun owner and I as a citizen of this great nation feel we do need some sort of gun reform. No one needs to have any sort of machine gun assult riffle to defend their home. How many of these people that feel they need to have an ar-15 for example to defend their home have ever had a need to defend their home from a intruder? I think that its just another excuse to rally the loons out there.

    January 16, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Kris

    There is a reason to have guns for killing people ..its called war. how about martial law is imposed on the citizens of the US and no one has assualt rifles.. we would be doomed. cmon man. we need guns that kill people because other people have guns that kill people. If i need to kill someone i need a gun that will get it done. I am not surrendering to my government like so many others seem to want to do.

    January 16, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. jpmcmaster

    Dr Steven F Dobrowolski – evidentally you are not familar with the mechanical differences between a semi auto "sporting arm" and a military weapon. The modern "sporting arms", commonly referred to as "assault weapons" by the President, media, et al, are NOT military weapons, nor are they military grade weapons. They may look the same but are very different on the inside. Kind of like buying a Ferrari versus a Fiero, not the same thing.

    By the way, you may belong to the "descent" gun owners, I won't argue that with you, after all, you are supposedly a Dr. of some sort, therefore making your comments accurate. If by chance your a M.D., then you are probably more responsible for deaths among the population then all the "decent" gun owners. Just sayin 🙂

    January 16, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Gregory M. Newbold

    We need to educate people. I believe that by calling on the TV media to show the column chart of monthly job growth [or losses] going back 5 years, the President`s good performance got ahead of the GOP Misinformation campaign.

    Similarly, whenever there is a media story on guns [including future shootings] the media needs to show a chart stretch back 25 years showing; a) US gun death`s PER CAPITA [this will show MORE people dying per citizen], b) Number of guns PERCAPITA, c) NRA budget/ ad spending, d) NRA membership.

    I hope Rachel Maddow`s staff [she has a stellar team] or someone else`s puts this together and makes it a RECURRING staple in the discussion around GUNS.

    Tge American people need to have this truth in their faces repeatedly until they internalize it.

    Then and only then will the 2,800 US gun deaths PER MONTH end

    January 16, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. joey

    this is my rifle , this is my gun, this ones for fighting, this ones for fun

    January 16, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Jill Aronofsky

    It's about time. Unfortunately, certain individuals make "GUN CONTROL" necessary. Civilians do not need assault rifles or piercing bullets. Rifles and hand guns do enough damage. Have you ever seen anyone after they were shot in the face and maimed for life. No amount of plastic surgery could ever repair them physically or mentally. Did you ever see anyone who was shot in the head and survive? Struggling to walk and talk again, and perform the simple tasks of every day life. These were LAW abiding citizens, just working to earn a living and support their families. Now we've seen the horror of mass murders in schools, the movies,malls and places we should feel and be safe. If Mrs Lanza took time to be a responsible parent and gun owner. We probably wouldn't be having this debate. Unfortunately she became her own victim of look the other way.

    January 16, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. aztekman

    No DUH, after all of the "Hype" by MSM and the administration, the facts are coming out. None of the proposals would have prevented any of the shootings. The proposals are more "feel-good" and they remove rights. The only thing that seems "reasonable" is #18 where he is authorizing funds for protection at the school. Even that does not seem to be that effective.

    January 16, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. jacob

    lol you bring up the bs about obomas kids being targets... Well did his kids get shot at school? More kids in public school are in real danger than his. You all forget its more than just pleasure of owning the rifle. But a counter balance our founding fathers insited we have as a right to keep us truely free from a oppresive goverment. Come try to get my "assault" rifle.

    January 16, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Barrt

    Dr. D. your argument is weak. Lest you forget, the last presidential assassination attempt was carried out with a .22 caliber revolver, significantly "less" gun than your antique. Banning weapons is already in full swing in urban areas such as Chicago and D.C., where it has proven itself to be completely ineffectual. You can't fix broken people by restricting their victims' ability to defend themselves, it just doesn't work.

    January 16, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. empresstrudy

    How does anyone plan to address the 300 million or so guns where are already out there? Wait for them to rust?

    January 16, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Sarah Reinecke

    We the people would like the government to keep their hands of our guns and healthcare. Does Obama need another shellacking like in Nov 2010?

    January 16, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. 2012liberal

    Strike while iron hot. That's why nothing get done or funded. Who would hv thought that funding 4 schls would come n the form of a gun instead of text books or infastructure. The schls lack of funding n those areas in leaking pipes and inferior buildings and structure is more of a hazard 2 our kids than a stranger w a gun. But no spending 4 that.

    January 16, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. otlset

    If there were

    January 16, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. IvotedforObama

    Here is an easy solution: Just make a law where gun owners have to have them secured a certain way and if they fail to follow the new law an their guns are used by a criminal to kill people then that gun owner will be subject to prosecution.

    January 16, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Joe

    Interest in the gun control debate will continue to wane as the debt ceiling debate heats up.

    January 16, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Uncle Sam

    Does this seem familiar? From the pages of Milton William Cooper’s 1991 book Behold A Pale Horse:

    “The government encouraged the manufacture and importation of firearms for the criminals to use. This is intended to foster a feeling of insecurity, which would lead the American people to voluntarily disarm themselves by passing laws against firearms. Using drugs and hypnosis on mental patients in a process called Orion, the CIA inculcated the desire in these people to open fire on schoolyards and thus inflame the ant-igun lobby. This plan is well under way, and so far is working perfectly. The middle class is begging the government to do away with the 2nd Amendment.”

    January 16, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "So what is the background check going to be? Are they going to ask you if you have a mentally ill person or someone
    with autism in the home and you can't buy a gun? That is almost like eugenics. "

    Aaaw, I almost feel bad for LMAO. I mean, I'll give you credit...you guys really do try so very very hard...but it's just fail after fail after fail......

    January 16, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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