Poll: Less than half of Americans upset about Senate gun vote
April 24th, 2013
08:31 AM ET
8 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. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Wow CNN, why haven't you reported on the Tsarneavs having an M-4 Carbine Assault rifle in their possession. That IS a military weapon. How did it end up in their hands? Why haven't you released how many magazines and how much ammunition they had in their possession?

    April 24, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  2. WouldYouLookAtThat

    But... I thought the media and the rest of the anti-gun crowd, namely Obama, Biden, Piers Morgan and Bloomberg, had us believing that over 90% of Americans wanted more stringent background checks...

    April 24, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. Canuck

    To quote John Oliver (Daily Show):

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb, and now we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one (mass) shootings since Columbine, and no change in our regulation of guns.

    April 24, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. plain&simple

    Until laws get changed ,we sit and wait !!! So sad we forget so easily. No family that falls victim to a loss of a loved one will ever forget. I'm sure theywish they had no memory of a tragic event such as that. Unfortunately time will bring more families into the fold and one day enough people will grow tired of the absurdity of inaction!

    April 24, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    The Dem socialists wanted the public to believe that guns were the problem.........when it was perfectly clear, that the real problem was how we are handling mental problems, in the U.S.

    The public recognizes the truth........that controlling guns doesn't solve the real problem in any way.

    April 24, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. draughnk

    Maybe Joe Scarborough should take a look at this since he likes polls so much lately.

    April 24, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. rs

    Given that it was well known in advance that the Senate GOP members were going to maintain yet another filibuster on any gun control bills (requiring a higher 60% passage), and the positions stakes out by the lunatic TEA Party GOP in the House, it was no surprise that nothing got done- that is the GOP's whole function- to do nothing.

    The fact is, just like attitudes on gay marriage, the political rise of Hispanics, and more, the GOP is clearly on the wrong side on guns, defending an ever more radical NRA.

    This problem will get fixed by time. The GOP will lose more elections,and more power, and at some point, logical gun control will prevail- probably including registration, licensing, background checks and insurance- and nothing will stop that. In addition, the pressure of the body count will increase. We are at well more than 3,500 Americans killed since Newtown in December, and as the GOP and NRA want- there will undoubtably be more massacres. The GOP will either figure out the error of supporting "guns fed everyone", or they'll die as a party in the process.

    April 24, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    No mention by the MSM that the Boston bombers were in possession of a M-4 Carbine Assault rifle. No telling how much ammunition or how many magazines they had.

    April 24, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. rs

    The Dem socialists wanted the public to believe that guns were the problem.........when it was perfectly clear, that the real problem was how we are handling mental problems, in the U.S.

    So, Rick, square this with the GOP horror that Iran and N. Korea are trying to go nuclear- after all, nuclear weapons don't kill right?

    April 24, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. Richar

    So much for Obamas 90% of the American public demanding more gun laws and more stringent background checks.

    April 24, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. Sniffit

    Plurality of very nearly half are either angry or disappointed and it very well might be 50.5% considering the sampling error. CNN sells it as no big deal..."whew, looks like the GOP escaped totally unscathed because it's not a majority who are angry with them." Really? Watch.

    April 24, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. TheObserver

    We need more guns in America. Guns are our ONLY sense of security. Guns provide us with a sense of freedom. Guns make sure everyone in the world knows not to mess with us. We NEED to have more guns than everyone else because we have more to lose. We need guns because we want to be more bad ass than the terrorists. We NEED to have guns because our government is tyrannical, and often attacks in residential areas with ground forces. For this reason, we MUST be armed with the same weapons as those who practice tyranny against us. AR-15's, Bushmasters, ha, what a bunch of pansies. What are you going to do when the government attacks with tanks, or attack choppers? For this reason, Americans should ALSO be allowed to have grenades, and rocket launchers. Screw that, my government has drones and laser guided missiles. I'm going to need some nukes. I don't see any reason why not? Nothing bad happened with the guns.

    So if you couldn't sense the sarcasm, then wear tin foil on your head from now on, so we all know who you are.

    Hate to burst your bubble, war-mongers, but if the American government wants you dead, it won't matter how many guns you have and how big they are.


    April 24, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. Shuffler

    Odd but background checks were carried out when the newton guns were purchased. Why do media folks keep referring to newton when they writwe a background check story?

    April 24, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Sniffit

    "The Dem socialists wanted the public to believe that guns were the problem.........when it was perfectly clear, that the real problem was how we are handling mental problems, in the U.S."

    It's both, and not a single person who supported better background checks, bans of certain particularly effective and dangerous weapons or even a registration system was arguing that it was only the guns and our negligent gun laws. On the other hand, the NRA and its gun fetishist army consistently prove to be absolutists who believe it is only one of those two problems. Your attempt to portray reasonable people with reasonable concerns who propose reasonable solutions as the absolutists is nothing more than projection of your own absolutism.

    April 24, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. beingpushedtotheright

    Canuck & John Oliver: Where does the US Constitution guarantee us the right to wear shoes?

    April 24, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Ed1

    Real simple we don't trust Obama and our government to do what they say they will do period.

    April 24, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  17. Kevin

    I think this is a misleading poll question. If I were anti-gun-control, I would obviously not be upset that the bill did not pass. If I were pro-gun-control, I probably STILL would not be upset that the bill did not pass, because it wouldn't have done anything that I cared about.

    April 24, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. ng72

    We should all be skeptical when the government tries to limit our Constitutional Rights. Universal background checks ONLY works when people buy guns legally. Background checks do not stop criminals from stealing guns and using them. It doesn't stop criminals from buying them from "less than reputable people".

    The more faith and trust you put in the government, the more you become dependent on them. And that is a very scary thing. I don't know about you, but every politician is a liar and would probably sell their mother to get votes. And these are the people we are supposed to trust to have the Citizens best interest?

    April 24, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. steve

    Now we get to reality. 90% was a very soft number

    April 24, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Al

    Funny...where's the hype on gun control? Liberals lost big time. Lesson is to keep your nose out of American's business and find a solution to our jobs and debt.!!!

    April 24, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Truth

    Because background checks will prevent clinically insane psychos from stealing guns from those who have had their background checked. -Iibt@rd thought process

    April 24, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Data Driven

    Or, slightly more than a third were NOT upset by the vote.

    "There are lies, d-ed lies, and statistics" - Mark Twain

    April 24, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Al

    The original question that CNN got 90% was ...Do you believe in background checks? Not what the original bill asked for. The original bill asked for EXPANDED background checks. CNN needs to tell the truth and NOT mislead it's small number of viewers.

    April 24, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. Jack

    Stuffit, very childish comment!

    April 24, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. ugh

    Proof positive that Obama is not representing most Americans – only the special interest groups.

    April 24, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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