Support for Gun Control Waning

posted on December 11, 2020

A new poll is suggesting Americans’ appetite for gun control is shrinking.

A pre-election Gallup survey shows 43% of respondents oppose new gun-control restrictions, with 34% saying laws should remain where they are and 9% saying there should be a reduction. Support for new laws is at 57%, down 7% from a year ago, and the lowest since 2016.

Meanwhile, support for handgun bans is at near record-lows, with 74% of U.S. adults opposing handgun prohibitions, down four points from just a year ago.

The company has been surveying opinions on gun control since 1990, where support for new laws started high at 78%, then declined sharply from 1990 to 2010, to a record-low 43% in 2012.

There were notable times the needle moved, such as in 2012 and 2018 after murderers struck in Newtown, Las Vegas, and Parkland. These tragedies were quickly followed by a veritable blitzkrieg of high-pressure anti-gun propaganda, including calls for boycotts, $11 million in political donations to anti-gun politicians, marches and emotionally charged legislative action in Democrat-controlled states. However, the findings now suggest those spikes are evaporating.

Concerns of coronavirus and government overreach, civil unrest from racially-themed protests, early release of thousands of criminals, defunding of police departments in major urban cities, an uncertain election, and record firearm purchases in 2020 may all be driving the change.

It’s logical that when imminent threats arise, responsible citizens prioritize the safety of themselves and their loved ones. But notably, Gallup also records the number of persons reporting being victimized by a crime is at 13%, a 20-year-low.

The numbers get more interesting when divided by party affiliation. You’d expect more Republicans to oppose gun control, and more Democrats to support it, much of which is true. Republican support for gun control is down 14 points from last year—the lowest in two decades. But even among Democrats, support has declined five points in three years, while independent support for gun control is down four points. When it comes to handguns, 41% of Democrats still support a handgun ban.

Unsurprisingly, not owning guns is strongly correlated with supporting increased restrictions, suggesting that when it comes to guns, people are willing to regulate an industry they neither participate in nor even understand.

Gallup also surveys gun ownership, and found this year that 32% of respondents say they personally own a firearm, while 44% say they live with a gun in the home. While a slight increase from previous years, Gallup says the number shows no clear trends. Once again, that is in stark contrast with numbers showing a record-smashing 36 million new background checks this year, and an estimated two million new firearms sold last month alone.

Of course, the polls got so much wrong in 2020’s election, and as the NRA Institute for Legislative Action points out, there’s plenty of room for healthy skepticism of opinion surveys.

Gallup’s full list of firearms questions and trends over time can be found here.

(David Burnett is an ICU nurse based in Detroit, Mich. He holds degrees in business, nursing and law, and is a frequent contributor to America’s 1st Freedom.)


Philip Schreier
Philip Schreier

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