If you think Americans are more pro-firearms than 20 years ago, you’re right. And new data from one of America’s leading polling companies points to anemic support for any new gun control regulations.
A recent survey conducted by pollster Gallup, Inc. indicates fewer Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States. The results are based on Gallup’s annual crime poll, conducted October 6-9.
This year’s survey finds support for a variety of gun-control measures at historic lows.
According to the poll, a record-low percentage of Americans—just 26 percent—support a handgun ban, while nearly three-quarters (73 percent) oppose such a measure. In addition, for the first time, the pollster found greater opposition than support for a ban on semiautomatic firearms, 53 percent to 43 percent.
When the question was initially asked in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57 percent for and 42 percent against an “assault rifle” ban. Congress passed such a ban under President Clinton in 1994, but the law expired when Congress failed to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided on the subject.
In this year’s poll, all key subgroups showed less support for stricter gun laws and for a ban on handguns than they did 20 years ago. In 1991, 68 percent of Americans favored stricter gun laws and 43 percent favored a ban on handguns. In 2011, those percentages are 43 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Also, firearms ownership is rising on all sides of the demographic and political spectrum—among those who identify themselves as democrats as well as republicans.
According to the survey, nearly half of all Americans (47 percent) say they have a gun in their home, representing a six-point jump from just 1 year ago, and the highest since the mid-1990s. The partisan divide on the issue is steadily shrinking, as 55 percent of republicans and 40 percent of democrats (up eight points from 2010) acknowledge having a firearm in their home.