GALLUP.COM November 16, 2020 – In the absence of a high-profile mass shooting in the U.S. in 2020 and amid the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest related to racial justice issues and the contentious presidential election campaign, Americans are less likely than they have been since 2016 to call for increased gun control.
The latest majority (57%) in the U.S. who call for stricter laws covering the sale of firearms marks a seven-percentage-point decline since last year.
At the same time, 34% of U.S. adults prefer that gun laws be kept as they are now, while 9% would like them to be less strict.
Gallup has been tracking the public’s views on this measure since 1990, when a record-high 78% of Americans supported stricter laws for gun sales as the nation’s crime rate was rising. A majority of Americans held that position until 2008. Support then fell to a low of 43% in 2011, when an equal number said gun laws should be kept as is, but calls for stricter laws increased sharply to 58% in 2012 after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Since the early 1990s, Americans’ preferences for tougher gun control have generally peaked in the wake of prominent mass shootings and waned as the memory of each fades. A recent example was the 2018 school massacre in Parkland, Florida, after which support for increased gun control hit 67%. Support remained near that level last year in two readings taken after mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, on consecutive days in August.
AMERICANS’ PREFERENCES FOR GUN CONTROL VARY BY DEMOGRAPHIC
There are sharp differences in views of gun control within a number of key demographic groups in the latest findings from Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 15. Majorities of women, Democrats, independents, those who do not own guns, residents of the Eastern and Western U.S., and city and suburban residents all support stricter gun laws. At the same time, these groups’ counterparts are more supportive of keeping gun laws as they are now or making them less strict. [full article]