- 57% of Americans want stricter U.S. gun laws, down from 66% in June
- 86% of Democrats, 60% of independents, 27% of Republicans want stricter laws
- Stable 46% of U.S. adults say there is a gun in their household
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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.
The Oct. 3-20 Gallup poll finds another 32% of Americans saying gun laws should be kept as they are now, and 10% would like to see them made less strict.
Gallup has tracked Americans' preferences for gun laws using this measure since 1990, when crime rates were approaching their peak in the U.S. and a record-high 78% of Americans supported stricter laws for gun sales. The record low is 43%, measured in October 2011. The latest poll was completed before the highly publicized shooting of three college students at the University of Virginia.
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.
Partisans Continue to Divide Sharply Over Gun Law Preferences
Preferences for gun laws in the U.S. continue to differ sharply by party. Currently, 86% of Democrats, 60% of independents and 27% of Republicans say the laws covering gun sales should be made more strict. Readings among all three partisan groups have fallen since June. The latest decreases are 11 points among Republicans, eight points among Democrats, and six points among independents.
Independents' current support for stricter laws is 14 points higher than it was one year ago, while Democrats' is five points lower, and Republicans' is essentially the same.
Household Gun Ownership Steady Among Americans
A steady 46% of Americans report there is a gun in their household, including 33% who say they personally own a firearm and 13% who say another household member is the gun owner. Personal gun ownership has averaged 30% since 2005, when it was first measured. Household gun ownership was higher in the early 1990s than it is now, but since 1996, 43% of U.S. adults on average have said there is a gun in their household.
Gun ownership varies most by political party, with more than twice as many Republicans (48%) as Democrats (20%) saying they personally own a gun. In addition, 66% of Republicans live in a household with a gun, while just 31% of Democrats do.
Likewise, majorities of those with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more (63%), residents of towns or rural areas (62%), Southerners (59%), and men (51%) live in households with a gun and are more likely than their counterparts to personally own one.
Americans under the age of 35 are less likely than those who are older to own a gun or live in a household with a gun.
Americans' calls for stricter gun laws have fallen since June, when back-to-back massacres in a grocery store and a school resulted in an increased appetite for gun control. This pattern, whereby public support for tougher gun control spikes after prominent mass shootings and falls back as the memory of them fades, has been evident historically in Gallup polling.
It is unclear how much the recent gun legislation has affected Americans' views.
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