Poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote
April 24th, 2013
08:31 AM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote

(CNN) - Heading into last week's gun control vote, polls showed that nearly nine in 10 Americans favored background checks not currently required by law for gun sales–a rarely seen, overwhelming amount of support for a piece of legislation in Washington.

Now that the Senate actually failed to pass such a measure, a new poll indicates Americans aren't as upset about the unsuccessful bill.

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On Thursday, the Senate voted on a number of amendments to a gun control package in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre that left 20 children and six adults killed. One of the provisions–the one thought most likely to get passed–was a bipartisan compromise that would expand the background check system to include private sales at gun shows and online.

In a 54-46 vote, the Senate came short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead with the legislation.

But a new Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll suggests that post-vote attitudes stray from the wide support for the background check measure before the debate, which hovered around 85% in multiple polls.

A plurality of Americans–47%–say they are either "angry" or "disappointed" with the Senate's action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39% say they are "relieved" or "happy" about the vote.

Looking further at the partisan breakdown, a little more than two-thirds of Democrats are disappointed or angry, and 22% are happy or relieved.

Only four Democrats voted against the amendment–all of whom are from states with large swaths of conservative voters. The four lawmakers included Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. (Senate Majority Harry Reid voted "no" for procedural reasons that would allow him to bring up the bill again in the future.)

As for Republicans, the poll shows a slight majority–51%–say they are very happy or relieved, while just over one-third say they are disappointed or angry. GOP members of the Senate largely voted against the measure, with the exception of four senators: Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Independents are more split, according to the poll. Forty-eight percent approve of the vote, while 41% disapprove.

Reid decided to shelve the bill, vowing to bring it back to the Senate floor once they feel confident that it could get more approval.

"We're gonna have time to work on what people want to do before we come back to this," Reid said last week on the Senate floor, adding that this option allows them to return to the bill without returning to square one. "It will only be a matter of time."

President Barack Obama, who strongly pushed action on gun control, condemned the Senate's vote, saying it marked a "shameful day in Washington." Speaking from the White House Rose Garden last week shortly after the amendment failed, the president vowed that this is only "Round One" of the fight for tougher gun laws.

The Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll was conducted April 19-21, with 1,002 adults interviewed by telephone. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Polls • Senate
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "let me fill you in. Background checks are already required for online and gun show purchases."

    NOPE. I can walk into a gun show in AZ with cash and walk out with a highly efficient firearm without a background check. That's a fact. Period. You're just spewing NRA m propaganda isinformation. The gun show loophole is well know, well documented and easily proven.

    BTW, you can't spell crazy without R and AZ.

    April 24, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Tommycat

    You guys do realize it wasn't JUST the NRA that opposed this. Even the ACLU opposed it.

    And honestly if it set a standard price of $15 for all background checks, or if we didn't have to go through a gun shop every time, like say being able to do a quick NICS check over the internet, most people wouldn't have a problem with it. But in Washington DC the cost for a background check is $150. I'd have a problem paying that just to loan a firearm to a close friend for his hunting trip.

    April 24, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    It's quite amazing that people on this site...and no doubt milling around in the general public as well...can't reconcile the idea that someone can support something and yet still not be angry and throw a hissy fit over it not being enacted.

    90% of America strongly supported better background checks in this legislation. Is a portion of that 90% capable of not getting angry over it not passing? Yes. Does that mean they really didn't want it? No. As a result, will you get poll results that show that less than 90% of people are angry over it not passing? Yes.

    The two polls are not mutually exclusive...nor does one disprove the other. CNN just presented it in that manner by juxtaposing them so that Teatrolls would reach behind themselves, crap in their fists and then start throwing it everywhere.

    April 24, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Larry L

    That vote was proof positive the Senate is too broken to be taken seriously. When the majority vote in favor of bringing an issue to the floor for a vote and the minority can continually filibuster to prevent an honest debate and vote – the organization is useless. It is the perfect tool for those who want to obstruct democracy.

    April 24, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Teddy

    Legislating by event is not good legislation. Expecting 100% anything and legislating to that standard requires total control by those legislating over those being legislated. It is ironic that we so easily state that 'Freedom is not free' becasue we simply pay with other peoples children and send them away to do battle while we sit home and pleasure ourselves and find it difficult to even take one day out of our year to honestly think of those paying our fee for freedom for us. The truth is, we here at home must pay the price as well and that price is not to give into our fear. The constitution is incrddible not in so much what it says or does not say but in its design. It is a study of human nature and it is a work seeking to offset the fear of the masses and the greed of those who want power. We are certainly living in a period where intense fear willingly gives power to a few and lessens what we all claim to want...freedom. It is hard to be brave when the world shows us how cruel a very few individuals can be. Those individuals may use guns and bombs but they use those only to establish power through fear and we seem to wish to oblige them becasue it is easier to.

    April 24, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "The constitution is incrddible not in so much what it says or does not say but in its design."

    It certainly is....and nowhere in it does it contain the filibuster that killed this legislation, which was voted for by a majority of the Senate.

    April 24, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Pam from Iowa

    Why be upset when we knew Congress would vote against what most Americans wanted??
    Under the table money from the NRA will always carry more weight than what their consituents want!
    Besides, I will need guns and assault rifles so I can shoot down any drone that invades my air space!!!!

    April 24, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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