Nov 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Polls: Support for stricter gun laws slipping

Confiscated guns displayed by the New York City Police Department in October 2021.
Confiscated guns displayed by the New York City Police Department in October 2021. Photo: Bryan Smith/AFP via Getty Images

Support for stricter gun control laws in the United States has fallen, polls by Quinnipiac University and Gallup published this week show.

Why it matters: The drop in support coincides with a major spike in gun sales and estimated violent crime rates that has continued into 2021, though criminologists are largely divided on what caused the crime increase.

By the numbers: Quinnipiac found that among 1,378 surveyed adults, 45% supported stricter gun laws, a drop of 9 percentage points from a survey it did in April 2021. Opposition to new gun laws rose from 42% in April to 49% in November.

  • 91% of polled Democrats said they support stricter laws, while 84% of Republicans and 54% of independents said they oppose them.
  • 40% of those surveyed said they believed the U.S. would be safer if more people owned guns, and 48% said it would be less safe.
  • Gallup found in its poll of 823 adults that support for stricter gun control has fallen five percentage points to 52%, the lowest reading it's recorded since 2014.
  • 91% of surveyed Democrats supported stricter laws in its poll, and 56% of Republicans said the laws should be kept as they are.

The big picture: Some experts have suggested that socioeconomic changes — like increases in unemployment — set off by the coronavirus pandemic have contributed to the violent crime spike. Others have proposed that disruptions to policing from the virus and police brutality protests are a factor.

  • Analysts have produced research that suggests the upticks in gun-related homicides was not caused by record gun sales because many of the new purchases were by people who already owned guns, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.
  • As of October, 44 states and the District of Columbia had enacted around 200 gun and community violence-related laws this year, while federal gun control initiatives have largely stalled, Axios' Stef W. Kight reports.

Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac poll also found that a bipartisan majority of Americans believe that the Supreme Court and its justices are mainly motivated by politics rather than the law.

  • The survey suggests that Americans are losing faith in the Supreme Court as the nonpartisan final arbiter of the law and the Constitution.

Methodology:

  • The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,378 U.S. adults nationwide from Nov. 11 to Nov. 15 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.
  • The Gallup poll surveyed 823 U.S. adults from Oct. 1 to Oct. 19 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Go deeper: Why we struggle to count violent gun crime

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