Despite continued pressure for more restrictive firearms legislation by the Obama administration and some state lawmakers, new polling data from a leading public-opinion group indicates decreasing numbers of Americans support new laws limiting gun rights. The data also shows the public continues to strongly oppose restrictions on handgun ownership by citizens.
In polling conducted by Gallup the first week of October 2013, 49 percent of those interviewed supported more restrictive gun laws. In similar polling conducted by Gallup in December 2012—just days after the Newtown, CT, tragedy—58 percent of those interviewed said they supported more restrictive firearms laws. This month's Gallup poll showed a slight increase among Americans to keep the laws as they are now (37 percent) and those who desire less stringent gun control (13 percent).
Also contained in this month's Gallup polling data, released October 25, a record-high number of Americans continue to broadly support handgun ownership by private citizens. Only about one in four Americans—26 percent—believe handgun possession should be limited to police and other authorized persons, while 74 percent oppose handgun ownership restrictions.
Gallup points out current attitudes on handgun ownership are markedly different from the 1980s, when barely half of Americans opposed a ban on civilian handgun ownership. It is also a major reversal from a half-century ago, when only 36 percent opposed such a ban. Opposition to banning citizens' possession of handguns mounted in the 1990s and 2000s, and first crossed the 70 percent threshold in 2009.
In addition, the poll found firearms ownership is rising on all sides of the demographic and political spectrum—among those who identify themselves as Democrats, as well as Republicans. The partisan divide on the issue of firearms ownership is steadily shrinking, as 55 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats (up eight points from 2010), acknowledge having a firearm in their homes.