Gallup Poll: Support for gun control is waning, opposition to handgun ban at all-time high

A recently released Gallup Poll showed that public support for gun control has waned since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the Poll, which surveyed 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, on Oct. 3 to 6 via the telephone, about half (49 percent) of Americans believe that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict while the other half believes gun laws should be kept as they are now (37 percent) or made less strict (13 percent).

Immediately following Sandy Hook support for tougher gun laws spiked at 58 percent, the highest it had been since 2004 when it reached 60 percent, according to Gallup’s tracking.

Gun laws: More strict, kept the same or less strict?

Gun laws: More strict, kept the same or less strict?

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans — approximately three out of four — oppose a ban on the possession of handguns for everyone who is not a police officer or “authorized person.” As indicated by the chart below, that 74 percent figure is the all-time high for opposition to banning handguns.

Support for banning handguns

Support for banning handguns

Not surprisingly, support for tougher gun laws and bans on handguns are divided along party lines with more Democrats and Liberals in favor of those measures than Republicans or Conservatives. To break it down, 77 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Liberals favor stricter gun laws compared with 33 percent of Conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans. With respect to banning handguns, 37 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Liberals support the ban while only 17 percent of Conservatives and 16 percent of Republicans support the ban.

Demographic breakdown of support for gun control and handgun ban.

Demographic breakdown of support for gun control and handgun ban.

What can we learn from this poll? From my point of view, three things:

First, far too many people still believe that we need to pass tougher gun laws. Fifty percent is way too high. Gun owners need to do a better job spreading the gospel of guns. Gun owners need to continue to win over the hearts and minds of the non-gun owning public.

Second, the public overwhelmingly embraces handgun ownership. This is good news and might have something to do with the fact that there has been an expansion of concealed carry rights and self-defense laws over the past two decades all the while crime (the homicide rate, property crime and violent crime) has declined. The opposition to banning handguns can also be an indication of the public’s recognition that owning a handgun for self-defense is an important right that needs to be protected, not infringed upon.

Lastly, emotions were running high after Sandy Hook. As a result, several states (New York, Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut and California) were able to capitalize off that emotion and ram through stricter gun laws. Now, though, public support for tougher gun laws is receding and therefore the prospect of the federal government reforming the nation’s gun laws is diminished.

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