Gallup sees diminishing support for gun control

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

Polls vary wildly based on a number of variables. Not just who you call but what you ask and how you ask it can change things to a significant degree. As such, I’ve always found it useful to look at trends from the same pollsters.

And Gallup has a new poll out that shows things not looking great for gun control.

Americans’ support for stricter U.S. gun laws has receded after sharply increasing in the wake of two mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, in the spring. Specifically, 57% of U.S. adults now think laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, down from 66% in June. Still, current support is above the 52% measured in October 2021 and matches the 2020 reading.

Support for stricter laws has risen after some of the worst gun violence in U.S. history. These include mass shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012; a Las Vegas music festival in 2017; and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Most recently, the May murders of 21 children and adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and 10 people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store preceded a 14-percentage-point increase in calls for stricter gun sale laws compared with October 2021.

Although there have been other high-profile mass shootings since the June poll — including one at the Highland Park, Illinois, July 4 parade — demand for stricter gun laws has declined, much like it did after previous highly publicized mass shootings. However, the current instance may also reflect public recognition of the federal gun law that was passed in June with bipartisan support in direct response to the Uvalde shooting.

Now, Gallup does go on to say that they can’t be sure the passage of the bipartisan gun control bill had any impact at all. That’s more speculation on their part.

And yes, this is from before the UVA shooting or, obviously, the Colorado Springs shooting.

However, they also note that support for gun control surges after big, high-profile shootings and then diminishes as time rolls on.

What’s happening is that people are reacting emotionally. They’re upset by the shooting and when some talking head tells them gun control would prevent it, they accept it as the only rational response. So, when a pollster asks them about it, they respond as supporting some kind of restriction on the right to keep and bear arms.

But as things settle and folks are able to think a bit clearer, that support drops. Especially in the wake of something like the Raleigh shooting, where the alleged killer used anything but a so-called assault weapon.

It should also be noted that Gallup tends to show support for gun control a bit higher than many other polls, so the actual support may be significantly lower than illustrated here.

Of course, that’s probably going to change after Colorado Springs, but in time, that too will change and we’ll be able to get back to our lives.