A new Gallup poll shows that the number of Americans who favor tougher gun control laws has dropped to its lowest point in nearly 20 years.
Gallup asked the question, “In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now? Forty-four percent said more strict, 12 percent said less strict, and 43 percent said the laws should be kept as they are now — making for a 55-44 majority opposed to tougher laws.
That 44 percent is the lowest number since Gallup began asking this particular question in 1990. A year ago, in October 2008, 49 percent wanted stricter laws. Four years ago, in October 2005, 57 percent wanted tougher laws. In May 2000, 62 percent favored tougher laws, and in August 1999, 66 percent felt that way. Going farther back, in March 1993, 70 percent favored stricter laws, and in September 1990, 78 percent felt that way.
Gallup also asked respondents whether they believe there should be a law “that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons.” Twenty-eight percent said yes, versus 71 percent who said no. That 28 percent who favor a ban is the lowest figure in the 50 years — yes, 50 years — that Gallup has been asking the handgun question. Five years ago, 36 percent of those surveyed favored a handgun ban, and in 1993, 42 percent were in favor. On the flip side, the 71 percent who oppose a handgun ban is the highest that figure has ever been in five decades of polling.
Gallup found that support for more restrictive gun laws has gone down in every sub-group measured — age, sex, race, education, political philosophy, etc. But even with that decline, majorities in some groups still support tougher laws. For example, 59 percent of people in the East support more restrictive laws, as do 55 percent of women, 55 percent of people who have post-graduate education, and 67 percent of people who describe themselves as liberals.