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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Gun Poll: Support for Reforms Increasing….for Now

It’s only one poll about gun safety reforms. But I’m beginning to wonder if proximity to an election is more important than poll averaging for evaluating public attitudes for reforms on this particular issue. Everyone is outraged after a mass shooting. Then there is big talk about enacting gun restrictions. Then the issue fades away with politicians until the next massacre, and the cycle starts again.

We can hope that this latest poll, by CNN/SSRS signals a more permanent change in public attitudes and support for political action. As reported by Ariel Edwards-Levy at CNN Politics, “Most Americans continue to say gun control laws should be generally stricter, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, which finds broad support for preventing people under the age of 21 from buying any type of gun. At the same time, the country remains closely divided about how the availability of guns affects public safety, with sharp differences in views across partisan and demographic lines.” Further,

Overall, 64% say they favor stricter gun control laws, with 36% opposed, little changed since a survey taken last summer in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

About one-third of Americans, 36%, say that the presence of guns makes public places less safe, while 32% say that allowing gun owners to carry their guns in public makes those places safer and the rest that it makes no difference to safety.

Just over half the public, 54%, say they believe having stricter gun control laws would reduce the number of gun-related deaths in the country.

Public appetite for stricter gun laws has often tended to spike in the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings – but with the frequency of such incidents, that elevated support may have become somewhat more durable. CNN’s polling has found consistent majority backing for stricter guns laws since 2016, with 60% or more favoring tighter restrictions in every survey to ask the question since the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

There’s also been a sustained shift over the past decade in the intensity of opinions, which now consistently and substantially favor gun control advocates. In CNN polls conducted between 2013 and 2017, strong support for stricter gun laws outpaced strong opposition by an average margin of only 5 percentage points. In the years following the Parkland shooting, that margin has surged to an average of 30 points.

In the latest survey, strong support for gun control laws among the full public stands at 46%, while strong opposition stands at 20%. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to hold intensely felt views: 80% say they strongly support stricter laws, nearly doubling the 42% of strong opposition among Republicans.

There are more details to consider in Edwards-Levi’s report. Read it here.

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