Is America Rethinking Its Stance on Guns?
Byline: Washington Post
WASHINGTON -- The shootings in Newtown, Conn., two weeks ago sparked an intense reaction across the country, and opinion polls captured major changes in the way the public interprets such events and how strict gun laws should be but only minor shifts in support for specific policies.
Here is a rundown of what public views changed and what didn't after the shootings:
More interpret shooting as a sign of broader problems. In a major reversal, more than half of Americans saw the Newtown shooting as a reflection of broader societal problems, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll immediately after the attack.
Only about a quarter of the public saw the shooting in July at a theater in Aurora, Colo., as a sign of broader problems for society, according to a Pew Research Center poll at the time, while two-thirds viewed it as the isolated act of a troubled individual. Likewise, nearly six in 10 saw the 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six as an isolated act.
Support spikes for restricting gun sales in general. Fully 58 percent of Americans say laws on gun sales should be made more strict, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday, a jump from 43 percent in 2011 to its highest point since 2004. The jolt in support for gun restriction may be limited to how they are bought and sold: A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found little change in support for stricter gun control laws overall after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The sharp rise in desire for making gun sale laws "more strict" from the Gallup poll marks a return to where Americans stood throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, when roughly six in 10 said laws should be made more strict.
Big support for background checks and banning clips is unchanged. Support for a variety of specific gun restrictions was largely unchanged after the Newtown shootings. Nearly all Americans continue to support mandatory background checks for gun buyers (including at gun shows), and steady majorities support a ban on clips that allow someone to fire 10 or more bullets before reloading. …