Polls Show Movement toward Stricter Gun Control with Major Caveats

Article excerpt

Public attitudes toward private ownership of firearms have shifted over the years. In the 1990s, Americans were more inclined to favor stricter gun control. More recently, that mind-set has shifted toward greater support for Second Amendment protections of gun ownership.

But in the wake of recent mass shootings especially the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first-graders and six adult staff at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn. by a young man armed with an assault rifle with large-capacity magazines, handguns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition another shift has occurred.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll taken shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre shows 58 percent of respondents saying they now favor stricter gun laws, up from 43 percent in October 2011.

Similarly, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll (also taken right after Sandy Hook) finds 55 percent agreeing that that gun control laws should be made more strict, 13 percent said they should be made less strict, and 27 percent said there should be no change.

2012 enters the record books. Were you paying attention? A news quiz.

In 2011, according to the USA Today/Gallup poll, most of those surveyed favored enforcing existing gun laws over passing new ones 60-35 percent. The latest poll has the number wanting new gun laws increasing to 47 percent. Meanwhile 92 percent in this new poll support background checks for buyers at gun shows, and 62 percent favor bans on high-capacity magazines holding as many as 30 rounds of ammunition steps favored by the White House and congressional supporters of stricter gun control.

At the same time, however, most respondents (51-44 percent) say theyre against any law making it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess "semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles. And a very large majority (74-24 percent) opposes greater restrictions on the possession of handguns.

The bottom line in Gallups new polling?

Americans favor new legislation to limit gun sales, presumably to help prevent the kind of gun violence that became all too familiar in 2012, writes the polling organizations Lydia Saad in an analysis. This is seen in increased support for making the laws covering the sale of firearms more strict, and for passing new gun laws. …