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. grister

    How about just imposing harsher penalties on crimes involving guns?

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

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

    Pretty crappy given that other states have loosey-goosey societally negligent gun laws.

    January 16, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Dean

    All social security offices have armed guards. Most all government offices have metal detectors and armed guards.

    January 16, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. 2012liberal

    So yes on govt spending 4 safe kids. Yes 4 govt spending on implementing gun laws. And yes on govt spending on atf director and yes on govt spending etc etc...

    January 16, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Sniffit

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

    There you are! I was wondering when you'd flatter me again via imitation.

    BTW, the graphs still support precisely what Obama is saying, even if there has been some slight waning in the initial burst of outrage following Newtown.

    January 16, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. jon

    If you want a gun that can't be traced back to ya find a coke dealer. They will hook ya up.

    January 16, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Dean


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

    January 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Namemicmacman

    dear idiots...since time immemorial all presidents children are automaticaly protected by the secret service for obvious reasons.....if you work at walmart no one is kidnapping your children for ransom or political reasons you morons...two, you are the exact kind of people who shouldn't have guns if you dont understand this in the first place, your not smart enough

    January 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. jon

    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin. The second amendment isn't for hunting and sport.

    January 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Pat Conahan

    In your article ,it said home owners had a wepon.Only three kinds of people have weapons police ,criminals and
    soldiers.I have guns and rifles no weopns.

    January 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Barry

    I don't see how the article makes the point for CNN. Looks like Americans don't feel the availability of guns causes violence like the Obama administration says it does, and they would like armed guards in schools – that would mean they have guns, to prevent violence.

    January 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Brian

    The moment I suddenly regret not voting. Didn't think that Romney guy was worth the time. I'll vote R next I don't care who they put up.

    January 16, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. KBP

    Wolf said it was inappropiate for the NRA to bring Obama's kids into the political fight on gun control. Why is it OK for Obama to bring 4 kids into his press conference and use them for political reasons? He opened the door to use kids.All parents love and want their children to be just as safe as Obamas. Its accurate to say after all the school shootings, all students in schools need a higher level of protection since mentally ill or evil people have been targeting schools. After all, this entire issue is to make kids safer in school. All the new laws he wants to add to the 20,000 plus gun laws on the books will do nothing to protect the students when the next mentally ill person steals, borrowes or somwhow takes a gun and walks into a school full of defenseless kids and teachers.

    January 16, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. samikep

    "Slight Dip" are you kidding me. Not even a month after the shooting your polls are dropping.. CNN and POTUS need to stop using emotional events to push agendas the MAJORITY of Americans do not want...

    January 16, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Robert

    @Dr Steven F Dobrowolski

    The need for what you call "military weapons" is spelled out directly in the 2nd Amendment. It has nothing to dowith sport shooting. The purpose of the 2nd is to defend this free nation from tyrants. To do that requires "military weapons", not 4-shot shot guns loaded with bird shot.

    You may disagree with me all you want, but what I say is true and can be verified by looking up what the framers of the 2nd had to say about the necessity of a free people to be armed. What is it that people dont get about "shall not be infringed"?

    January 16, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. jamesmadison

    What I've gathered from this new NRA advertisement is that it's done more damage for their cause than it has to slow the bleeding of gun control. Yesterday, I was more or less indifferent towards the NRA – no real reason to like it, no real reason to hate it (except I think I started to make a change in opinion when I heard of their stupid idea to hire an armed guard for every school in the nation using our tax money, when we're having trouble paying the teachers who work in the school as it is). After seeing this extremely petty, illogical, childish playground-comeback commercial from the NRA, I am no longer indifferent. This is an organization of fear mongers who demonstrate their lack of capacity to formulate logical arguments not only in the highest chairs within the organization, but also with (many – not all) of it's members. Just look at those James Yeager videos from the last few weeks. Unfortunately, those with the smallest brains tend to have the largest mouths. Case in point in this advertisement. The NRA is acting like a bunch of children.

    January 16, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. Trebec

    'Most people support a ban on semi-automatic guns, like the AK47' LOL. I stopped reading after that cause it lost all credibility, and if you don't see the problem with that statement than you have no right to comment on guns. This is the problem people, there is so much ignorance about guns. "Assault" rifles, like the AR15, is a rifle with a metal military look to it. AKA scary gun. However, there are rifles that are smaller and have wooden stocks that are even more powerful than the ar15.

    January 16, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. the_dude

    His Royal Majesty Obama and his royal court have decided what will be best for the peasents. No need to worry Obama give you welfare and free cell phones.

    January 16, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. dasea

    trouble. Bad idea nra, you are doing more harm than good for your members right now.

    January 16, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Ralph

    The NRA historically was, and is for responsible safe gun ownership. They have tried for years to get training programs, shooting competions, etc.... back into our schools to help teach our young people responsibility with these martial tools that are dangerous in untrained and un-schooled hands.
    I ask why has our education system failed us in this regard?

    January 16, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. someoneelsename

    trouble. Bad idea nra, you are doing more harm than good for your members right now. same message though

    January 16, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. jacksonian2012

    Stroke your guns, kiddies. Your cahonies get bigger, don't they? The Quacks want to stroke their guns no matter who gets killed. The responsible gun owners, the majority, are too chicken to do what they know is right. What a (big) bunch of wussies.

    January 16, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. bobby jones

    interesting graphs, maybe you should just look at how many guns have been sold since obama reelection to determine what americas think about owning guns.

    January 16, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Edna Ryals

    Lets' make all these gun owners join a militia and then send them all to Afghanistan for 6 months.

    January 16, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. AceRyder

    Pierce Morgan made the stupidest comment I've ever heard the other night will interviewing someone from the NRA – he said "there is no gun violence on planes since they are banned." It's not the ban that prevents gun violence, it's the intense security leading to boarding a plane which STOPS guns from entering them.

    There is no similar choke point in virtually any other area of our lives, except, interestingly, government buildings and some sporting venues.

    If you want to stop gun violence, are you willing to put up with such security measures in all areas of your life, because that is what it would take.

    Gun Free signs are a joke.

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