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It seems almost routine. There’s a high-profile mass shooting, followed by a week or two of fierce debate around gun policy. (And usually no legislative change.)
When it comes to the specific policy debates, where does the American public stand? This is normally where we’d answer that question for you, but why should we do all the work?
How well do you know how Americans feel about guns? Let’s start with the basics. (Keep in mind: This all comes from polling1We’re using results among registered voters. In four cases, though — a CBS News survey, an Ipsos/NPR poll and two Rasmussen surveys — only results among all adults were available. conducted after the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.)
Next, let’s look at particular measures that have been floated by lawmakers and see what the public has to say about them:
Roughly 1 in 3 Americans2The estimate of the percentage of people who own guns varies depending on whether you’re looking at opinion polls, which are conducted over the phone or online, or the General Social Survey, which is conducted mostly in person. The General Social Survey usually shows a lower rate of gun ownership. already owns a gun, but several policy proposals look at limiting future purchases. Here’s where guessing support gets a bit trickier.
One proposal — pushed by President Trump — has garnered more attention than in the past: arming teachers.
Other policies that have been hotly debated would involve removing guns from circulation. Let’s see what America’s appetite is for this kind of legislation.
Political proposals can seem abstract, but gun laws can also be a deeply personal issue. A majority of Americans in the polls we analyzed say they personally worry about themselves or loved ones falling victim to gun violence. While it’s clear that Americans can agree on at least some proposals to change gun laws, so far after each mass shooting, Congress hasn’t enacted any meaningful legislation. Higher-than-usual support in the polls for some stricter gun laws and persisting media attention and public interest in gun control in the wake of Parkland suggest that this time might be different. Still, the most recent polling shows that about half of the country believes the chances of stricter gun laws passing Congress are poor.