Poll: Support for Gun Control Drops Ahead of Midterm Elections

Gallup finds gun-control support down 6 points from February

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October 18, 2018

A new poll released on Wednesday shows support for new gun-control laws dropped significantly over the last seven months.

The Gallup poll of 1,019 adults, conducted between Oct. 1 and 10, found 61 percent of respondents support making gun laws stricter. That's down 6 points from when Gallup asked the same question between March 1 and 8. At the same time support for the idea that gun laws should be kept the same increased from 28 percent to 30 percent and support for the idea they should be made less strict doubled from 4 percent to 8 percent.

Overall, opposition to stricter gun-control laws moved from 32 percent to 38 percent. Two percent of respondents said they had no opinion. (It's unclear why Gallup's raw numbers add up to more than 100 percent but the discrepancy is likely the result of rounding.)

Support for stricter gun control has wavered significantly over the last few decades. When Gallup first asked about it in 1990, support for stricter laws came in at an all-time-high of 78 percent. In 2012, support hit an all-time-low of 43 percent. Support for stricter laws has trended back up since 2012, but this month’s numbers may indicate it is receding once again.

The poll found Republicans and Democrats were at odds over support for gun control. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats favor stricter gun-control laws, 10 percent favor keeping our gun laws the same, and 3 percent favor making them less strict. Only 31 percent of Republicans favor stricter gun-control laws while 55 percent favor keeping gun laws the same, and 13 percent favor making them less strict. Independents fell between the two groups with 61 percent favoring more strict laws, 28 percent favoring keeping them the same, and 7 percent favoring making them less strict.

Gun ownership was also a telling factor in how those polled responded. Seventy-three percent of those who didn't own guns favored stricter gun-control laws while only 38 percent of those who own guns did. Similarly, 48 percent of gun owners said they want gun laws to remain the same while only 20 percent of those who don't own guns said the same.

The groups are not as split on the question of an outright ban on handguns. Opposition to a handgun ban remained near an all-time-high and unchanged from the last time Gallup asked about it, with 71 percent against it and 28 percent in favor. Democrats had the highest level of support for a handgun ban at 42 percent but still registered 55 percent opposition to such a ban. Ninety percent of Republicans said they'd oppose a handgun ban with only 10 percent saying they'd support it. Gun owners were the most opposed to a handgun ban with 93 percent saying they'd oppose it and only 6 percent saying they'd support it.