A majority of Americans say the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter, according to a Gallup survey in March.
Sixty-seven percent of Americans want stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, a 7 percentage point rise since last fall.
The poll conducted March 1–8 was the first after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in mid-February. An October 2017 survey conducted just after the mass shooting in Las Vegas reported a five-point increase in public support for stricter gun laws.
The levels of support for stricter gun laws have reached their highest levels since December 1993, Gallup reported. At that time, the violent crime rate in the U.S. was at an all-time high. When Gallup first asked Americans in September 1990 about their desire for gun restrictions, a record high 78 percent favored stricter laws.
Rise and fall
As the crime rate began to fall in the mid-1990s, Americans’ perceptions of crime followed suit. In 1993 the federal government passed the Brady Bill, and in 1994 it passed an assault weapons ban. From 1995 to 2011, the percentage of Americans wanting stricter gun laws decreased from 62 percent to 43 percent. After the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, 58 percent of Americans preferred stricter gun laws, though that spike soon subsided. Since 2014, there has been a 20-point increase in support for stricter gun laws, with most of that increase occurring in the past six months.
One of the top issues
In addition to the two-thirds of Americans wanting stricter gun laws, 28 percent say gun laws should be kept as they are now and 4 percent say they should be made less strict. Both percentages have declined significantly in recent years.
Concerns about gun violence in the U.S. have escalated since the Parkland shooting. Gun control does not typically rank high on the list of most important problems, according to Gallup. The average percentage mentioning guns has been 1 percent since Gallup began asking the most important problem question monthly in 2001.
However, in the March update, guns ranked second as the most important problem in the country — behind dissatisfaction with government, which 22 percent of Americans mention. In February, immigration was the second ranked most important problem mentioned. Immigration, race relations and unifying the country continued to be mentioned by at least 5 percent of U.S. adults.