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. Borderless

    This is America at it's worst. The gun worshipping mentality of this nation sickens and embarrasses me.

    April 24, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. lottie

    proof positive that congress does not care what the nation wants.! Vote the trolls out. I guess you consider the family's of sandy hook special interest.? And the NRA doesn't consider the gun manufactures special interest? Another nut looking for a hidden agenda.

    April 24, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. rs

    The Right really is a pretty funny bunch. They can't even differenciate between what 90% of Americans want- (i.e. full background checks), and the disappointment that no such law passed the Senate that somehow isn't reflected in seething anger. One cannot be angered at what they expect- and with the GOP, we expect radicalism, and support for the rich few who make the guns.

    See, guys, we get that you're in the pocket of the NRA, and we get that you like seeing more gun sales. What you don't get is that no one is going to go nuts and froth at the mouth like you guys do. No, we'll keep working to curb the gun violence and the scurge of the anti-American NRA. And, we'll win. Not because of anger, but because time, reason, and logic are on our side.
    Every day that YOU allow terroists, criminals and the insane to stock up at gun shows, or via the internet, you have ever more blood on your hands: every mass-shooting will only make your position harder and harder to defend. This will continue until even the GOP (whatever is left of it) realizes that American culture and free guns just don't mix well, and the death toll (and all the associated costs) are simply too great to sustain the insanity of having the kooks at the NRA set our laws.
    No, no anger. Disappointement at stupidity, and greed, most certainly.

    April 24, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. MaryM

    Time to drain the swamp, congress that is. Vote in Americans that wish to be public servants, and definitely impose term limits

    April 24, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. much thunder..little rain

    this country is divide down the middle 100% agree

    April 24, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. eddieb

    upset no disappointed no I have come to expect congress to go against what the american people want... It is sad but true money rules. maybe if it were there children they would think diffrently.

    April 24, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. ghostriter

    Only conservatives can get around 1/3 of the people agreeing with them and think it's somehow a victory. Only conservatives can look at polls one week as nonsense and the very next week use the same polls as proof positive of their ideology. Only conservatives can have total support of a man totally against the use of drones on Americans without due process and then be totally for doing the exact same thing a month later.

    It's a wonder you guys aren't all extinct from forgetting to breathe.

    April 24, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. f ray

    300 million gun not going anywhere as long as there are profits to be made. better keep making coffins

    April 24, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. rob

    I bet 100% of the liberal media say they are either "angry" or "disappointed" with the Senate's action on gun legislation, Also, 100% of the Presidents gun controll legislation was REJECTED by the Senate.

    The media have been crowing about the "90%" who supported the "Backround checks" required in the law. As with most of Presidents agenda, the more people find out "Whats in it" the more thay dislike it.

    April 24, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Name lynn

    The people is saying this the republicans is fighting about the gun laws, yet the people is getting bombs an killing people what the heck. Hows the people is going to stop the people from getting bombs an guns.

    April 24, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. GI Joe

    They were brainwashed by NRA lies.

    April 24, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. B

    So 40% of the people are HAPPY the vote didn't pass and 53% are not angry or upset that it didn't pass. So 93% are satisfied with the outcome. That leaves 7% of the lefty loonies who are mad. Oh noooo I hope they don't vote everyone out of office in 2014.

    April 24, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Dude

    Obama wastes time on immigration and gun control, losing political capital, while allowing his signature achievement Obamacare to completely fall apart and take down a bunch of democrats in 2016

    April 24, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Gil Crawford

    They "demanded" a vote. " the people deserve a vote" well..you got what you asked for. A vote. You lost. The leaders who.voted against this are preserving our rights and freedoms. It is sad that almost half of the citizens are so. Willing to give them away. If the would look at the facts its simple. Guns have been around since before the constitution. But they haven't become a problem until electronics, instant news, and the erosion of family values became the norm. How many shooting rampages in the 40's 50's and 60's vs how many in the 90's and 2000's..ya gotta be guns can't be ANY thing else..and recently we learned that crazies will use knives and (illegal) bombs too

    April 24, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. RDH

    Goes to show how innaccurate and political published polls are. Polls related to hot topics such as these are issued for one reason only and that is to manipulate public opinion. A more accurate poll would have come from examining the completely empty shelves at sportsmans shops, gun stores, and gun shows. Americans spoke overwhelmingly against new gun control measures by buying every box of bullets and semi auto rifle they could get their hands on. Thanks to gun control advocates this is as well armed as this nation has ever been.

    April 24, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "Also, 100% of the Presidents gun controll legislation was REJECTED by the Senate."

    WRONG. A majority of Senators voted FOR it. Abuse of the filibuster to prevent EVERYTHING from passing cloture votes so that the legislation can be debated openly and then voted up or down on the basis of a simple majority rule is NOT "rejection" of the principles contained in that legislation by the Senate. It is OBSTRUCTION by the MINORITY of the Senate of the very vote that would determine whether the Senate actually accepts of rejects the legislation.

    April 24, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Caramon

    Sorry B. But I think you will find the 40 percent that are happy are part of the 53 percent that are not angry. But it still shows that people are no where near as upset as many wanted us to believe.

    Eddie, Congress also went against the will of the majority when they passed the Healthcare bill. I suppose then it was okay, huh?

    April 24, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Mike Johnson

    Hard to angry about crappy legislation. Hard to be dissappointed when you expect so little from congress.

    April 24, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. Marty, FL

    @ugh, Doublespeak.

    In reality, Pres. Obama is representing the overwhelming 90% majority of Americans who support reasonable background checks.

    While the overwhelming majority of cowardly GOP & few Dem senators support special interests and their 10% minority. Shameful.

    April 24, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Tim

    For those that are crying about this let me fill you in. Background checks are already required for online and gun show purchases. They are not required for sales by private individuals to private individuals. This would be virtually impossible to implement or enforce. Let me point out the one thing all of the gun control proponents always ignore. Criminals do not obey laws. That is why they are criminals. Here is the solution. Just make it illegal to kill someone.

    April 24, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Guest

    Good to hear, the liberal 90% never was a fact. At least we know that over half of Amercians still believe in the constitution and bill of rights, mostly conservatives and independents anyway.

    April 24, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. John

    If you do not like the constitution or the 2nd Amendment, feel free to leave my Country!
    Criminals will still have guns even if thy are made illegal just like the boston bombers had bombs eventhough bombs are illigal. The only reason you people are allowed to speak your ignorence is because you have the 1st Amendment the only reason you have the 1st Amendment is because my 2nd Amendment protects it.

    April 24, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. TDog

    Senate Majority Harry Reid voted "no" for procedural reasons that would allow him to bring up the bill again in the future. Bwhahahahaha – that guy is completely owned by the NRA – he better always vote no or get voted out

    April 24, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Rick7809


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

    No, proff positive that the congress, both Senate and house, is not representing most americans. With such a low approval rating, why should a reasonable person get upset when the COngress does something dumb. We expect them to act this way, and they do not disappoint us.

    April 24, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. RDH

    Why arent the parents from sandy hook that support the right to bare arms not being reported on the mainstream news networks, but you can find numerous interviews with them on you tube internet news channels?

    April 24, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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