Politics and Public Opinion, Polls

Polls on gun control: What you may have missed in this week’s polls

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Several pollsters have updated their questions and asked new ones about gun control in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Below is a sampling of the responses with some historical context.

Mental health screenings: There are very few questions in the polls about mental health. In the wake of the shootings, Gallup asked whether increased government spending on mental health screenings and treatments would have been effective in preventing mass shootings at schools. Fifty percent said it would have been very effective, 34% somewhat effective, and 14% not effective.

Stricter laws: Fifty-seven percent told CBS News pollsters that gun-control laws should be made more strict, an 18-point jump from the previous survey conducted in April 2012. In CNN/Opinion Research Corporation’s four-part question, roughly a third of Americans said there should be only minor restrictions on owning guns, slightly more than a third believe there should be major restrictions on owning guns, 13% said there should be no restrictions, and 15% said most guns should be illegal. These responses have not changed much in multiple surveys since 2009.

When asked how much gun control laws would have done to prevent the Newtown shooting, 50% said they would not have had an effect, 16% said they would have helped a little, and 26% a lot.

Gun control measures: Americans support most gun control measures tested in CNN/ORC’s latest poll. A large majority of Americans support a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun (95%), preventing certain people, such as convicted felons or people with mental health problems, from owning guns (92%), requiring gun owners to register their guns with the local government (78%), a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic assault guns (62%), and a ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition clips (62%).

Americans were divided on limiting the number of guns an individual can own. Forty-eight percent agreed, while 52% were opposed.

Gun rights: A new Pew survey found that 49% said it was more important to control gun ownership while 42% said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns. In 1993, the first time Pew asked the question, 57% said it was more important to control ownership. In the new poll, men and women were mirror images of one another, with women preferring greater gun control.

What’s wrong?: According to Pew, Americans are divided over whether the Newtown shooting reflects broader societal problems (47% think it does) or is an isolated act of a troubled individual (44% agree). Men and women are particularly divided on the question. Fifty-one percent of men (39% of women) think shootings like Newtown are acts of troubled individuals. Fifty-four percent of women (39% of men) think such shootings reflect societal problems.

The reactions toward Newtown are more similar to reactions to the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, where Americans were also divided on the society versus individual question. After the 2011 Tucson Arizona shooting and July 2012 Aurora Colorado shooting, most Americans said such incidents were isolated acts of troubled individuals.

Following the news: Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed by Pew said they were following news about the shootings very closely. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed by Gallup said the news media refusing to print or read the names of the person responsible for the shooting would have been very effective in preventing the shooting, 30% somewhat effective, and 40% not effective at all.

Partisan reactions: Unsurprisingly, partisan reactions on gun control laws are strong. Seventy-eight percent of Democrats told CBS News pollsters that gun-control laws should be more strict. Forty-eight percent of Independents gave that response, while only 38% of Republicans said laws should be more strict.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ll be back in 2013.

8 thoughts on “Polls on gun control: What you may have missed in this week’s polls

  1. Who was the real NUT here?

    What about the killer’s now dead mother who did not have the guns secured under lock and key in a gun-safe inside a house known to be home for at least one mentally ill and unstable person?

    Would you ride the subway carrying a bag full of Glocks and Sig Sauers? Would you carry a Bushmaster into a saloon?

    Responsibility and common sense seem to be absent from this disaster.

  2. (1) We neither need an armed America, nor a disarmed America. (2) Military-style weapons (assault weapons, high capacity clips, etc.) should not be in the hands of any of the general population. (3) As for 2nd Amendment nuts that think they are the last link to preventing a totalitarian take-over of the country so the need for guns — Gandhi and MLK Jr were able to move a nation without firing a shot. (4) As for the NRA need for armed citizens to oppose mass shootings — (a) there were two armed police at Columbine and one of the perpetuators blew right by one of the guards; and (b) in 2008 in Knoxville, TN a right-wing nut went into a Unitarian Church during a Sunday service to shoot-up liberals (and killed a few and injured a few more) and was stopped, not by a person with a gun, but by church members who tackled him.

      • why do we need guns on the street that were designed to kill as many people quickly as possible in wars’ we need to
        to make sure these rifles and guns have a limited magazine capacity of 6 rounds, and People with criminal records and the mentally ill should never have access to guns, There should be a waiting and background check of 90 days to aquire a gun purchase,These assault rifles should be banned as Illegal with a fine for ownership and or a jail term, owner should have the option to surrender their assault rifles without sanction within 90 days
        Better storage of guns in a metal locked safe is required to prevent access by children and people with any illness, we as citizens have the possibility to change the laws to improve public and street safety

    • we all have the rights to own reasonable gun’s ie’ a rifle for hunting, a shotgun for game birds and a hand gun for home protection, if we have a clear criminal record and no mental issue’s we should have no problem pre qualifying in the background check prior to the purchase of the guns we want to fullfill the wishe’s in our rights, We then have the responsibility to ensure all these guns are secured in a steel lockable gun safe away from children, and if we want the children to use the rifles, we must for safety send them to gun safety training courses, seems pretty basic stuff, Guns will not be taken away unless we abuse their use in criminal activitie’s in which we have abused our own right’s and must suffer the action’s of the prevailing law’s

  3. Bully’s, there are lots of them out there, some are people acting alone and some come in the form of groups, most are unaware they are bully’s.

    Bullying.. It’s human nature right or wrong and every culture throughout all of human history has and will engage in it, couple that with most if not all cultures being ethnocentric, or culture centric and well we get a lot of people doing lots of mean stuff in the name of the moral hi-ground. In fact it is the “nature of nature” that bullying occur. There are millions of examples in nature. And lets face it we bully people into following our laws (rules considered moral and just), through threat of force, and if that doesn’t work the guns come out.

    SO what to do about gun violence? OR in other words what to do about violence through the use guns /wink.

    I don’t like it one bit that people are out there shooting up other people, but I don’t feel I have the right to tell others they can’t protect themselves, be it from a common thief or an out of control group of people who “feel” they have the moral hi-ground, small or large and unfortunately the “gun” is the most effective means of protecting oneself or imposing your “assumed moral hi-ground” on other people.

    I find it ironic that those who think they have the moral hi-ground to tell others they don’t have the right to protect themselves by the best means possible, will indeed impose their moral belief through the use of “force” or lol, might makes right.

    While true Gandhi and MLK Jr “were able to move a nation without firing a shot”, you know dam well those are an aberration in the extreme, extreme, so far outside of the mean that is not even a cogent argument. In fact I think it’s rather ignorant given the breadth of human history and it’s numerous examples of might makes right. Did not Mao say that political power comes at the point of a gun.

    Weather you like it or not IT IS a basic “Human Right” to be able to defend your self, family and community. One that no one person or group, large or small, has the right to take away from you. In fact it’s guaranteed to you under the second amendment, “Shall not infringe” and before you go all nutty and say OH YA well they never intended some one to have a military weapon with a high capacity magazine that’s semi-auto, first go read the Federalist papers and see for yourself what Alexander Hamilton had to say about the second amendment, it’s fairly clear they intended “the people to have military” weapons

    so you people, stop acting like the ancient Greeks, where you got mob rule through populist whims. Why don’t you just move forward and support basic human rights instead of living in the past.

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