The Gallup Organization (gallup.com) is a performance management company and their Gallup Poll division regularly conducts public opinion polls that are frequently referenced as reliable and objective measurements of public opinion. Gallup Polls have measured the public’s opinions concerning a diverse range of political, social, and economic issues widely regarded for their accuracy.
For the last decade Gallup has been showing more Americans approving of gun ownership, indicating support for gun control is dwindling. In 2009 Gallup reported there was record-low support for stricter gun laws in the US. “Compared with views in 2000, each major demographic or attitudinal subgroup has shown a shift toward a more pro-gun stance on the question about whether gun laws should be more strict or less strict.” The poll also showed new lows in the percentage of Americans favoring a ban on handgun possession except by the police, a question that dates back to 1959.
Their bottom line assessment remarked, “Americans continue to trend toward holding attitudes that are more in favor of gun rights, and Gallup today finds new low points in favor of gun control on two separate measures dating back at least two decades. While solidly against a ban on handgun possession, Americans are nonetheless about equally likely to say they favor stricter laws on firearm sales as to say these laws should not change. Still, the current poll marks the first time Gallup has not found a significantly higher proportion of Americans preferring tighter gun-sale regulations.”
When the Supreme Court officially ruled that a District of Columbia ban on handgun ownership was unconstitutional Gallup found the ruling to be solidly in step with public opinion. A clear majority of the U.S. public (73%) believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. And almost 7 out of 10 Americans are opposed to a law that would make the possession of a handgun illegal, except by the police.
When retested one year later the results remained the same. In fact, even in light of tragic, criminal events perpetrated by the insane, Americans polled by Gallup stand their reasoned, logical ground and do not blame inanimate objects. Even following highly publicized shootings in Tucson and Virginia Tech the issue of gun control was found to not be highly salient in the minds of Americans as few mention gun control as an important problem or top priority for the government to deal with.
Gallup trends on gun control demonstrate that Americans have grown less supportive of strengthening gun laws in the United States over the last two decades, notwithstanding highly publicized gun attacks. The downward trend in support for stricter gun control stalled briefly in 1999 after the Columbine High School massacre; however, the slight increase in support for stricter gun laws seen then proved temporary. The general downward trend in support for stricter gun laws has continued even though several high-profile civilian gun crimes.
Read more in our December 2011 issue. Back issues are available.
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