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Dissatisfaction With U.S. Gun Laws Hits New High

Dissatisfaction With U.S. Gun Laws Hits New High

Story Highlights

  • 63% of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws; 34% satisfied
  • 54% of Republicans are satisfied -- a one-year, five-point decrease
  • 14% of Democrats are satisfied, down nine points to group’s record low

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans’ dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws has risen to 63%, the highest by one percentage point in Gallup’s 23-year trend, and an increase of seven points over the past year. At the same time, satisfaction with gun policy has fallen by the same amount to 34%, tying the lowest reading on record.


Gallup has tracked Americans’ satisfaction with the nation’s gun policies in January of most years since 2001 as part of its Mood of the Nation poll, which also gauges satisfaction with a variety of aspects of policy and life issues. This year’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 2-22, found subpar satisfaction ratings across many of the measures, in addition to gun laws.

In 2001, Americans were only slightly more satisfied with U.S. gun laws than they are now, but in 2002 and 2003, they were evenly divided, and from 2004 through January 2012, more Americans were satisfied than dissatisfied. Attitudes shifted after the December 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. Since 2013, majorities of U.S. adults have been dissatisfied, as mass shootings have continued in the U.S.

In 2016, the public’s satisfaction with gun laws dropped eight points to the 34% record low, while 62% were dissatisfied. (Most of the dissatisfied wanted stricter laws.) That 28-point gap was the largest for the trend until this year’s 29-point gap.

The latest increase in dissatisfaction comes in the wake of 2022, a year marked by the second-highest number of mass shootings in recent U.S. history, including two in May -- in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. These two massacres were the impetus behind the passage of the first significant federal gun legislation in nearly three decades. The law is aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of people who are a threat to public safety and provides funding for mental health services, school security and crisis intervention programs.

The bill passed with unanimous Democratic support in both houses of Congress along with 14 Republicans in the U.S. House and 15 Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Most congressional Republicans opposed the bill on the grounds that it would restrict Second Amendment rights. At the same time, President Joe Biden and many congressional Democrats said it didn’t go far enough in restricting guns.

Mass shootings in the U.S. continued through the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Several occurred during the latest poll’s field period, including two in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, California. The massacre at Michigan State University occurred after the poll ended.

Slim Majority of Republicans Satisfied, Most Democrats Dissatisfied With Gun Laws

A majority of rank-and-file Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are very (17%) or somewhat (37%) satisfied with U.S. gun laws, while an 84% majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners are very (59%) or somewhat (25%) dissatisfied.


Since 2001, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have been much more satisfied than Democrats and Democratic leaners with the nation’s gun policies. That gulf persists today, as 54% of Republicans and a record-low 14% of Democrats are satisfied. Republicans’ satisfaction has edged down five points over the past year, while Democrats’ has fallen nine points.


Bottom Line

Americans today are as dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws as they have been in the past 23 years. That dissatisfaction is driven largely by Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, who likely agree with the president and many Democrats in Congress that the gun legislation passed last year didn’t go far enough.

A majority of Americans continue to support stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, which has been the case for most years since the Sandy Hook School shooting, in contrast to opinions in the four years preceding it. Biden spoke about the need to pass further restrictions on gun ownership, including an assault weapons ban, in his State of the Union address earlier this month. Yet, the possibility of passing such a law in the near future seems remote. For now, any changes to gun laws are more likely to come from individual states, as they did in 2022.

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