Americans Are Losing Confidence That It's Possible To Pass New Gun Control Laws

Most still think it'd be a good idea, though.
Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Americans’ belief that new gun reforms are possible has receded somewhat from the record level it reached in late February, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Two weeks after the Parkland shootings, with student activists’ push for gun control dominating headlines, Americans said by a 24-point margin, 50 percent to 26 percent, that it was politically possible to pass stricter gun laws.

In the most recent poll, that’s down to a 13-point margin, 44 percent to 31 percent ― a dip, but still well above the level recorded in previous surveys, including one taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.


Concern about gun violence has also declined: 52 percent now call it a “very serious problem,” down from 60 percent immediately after the shooting, and 56 percent later in February.

But other metrics suggest that public support for gun control isn’t fading as quickly as the confidence in its political prognosis. A majority of Americans continue to say gun laws should be made more strict, and a 47 percent plurality still say that Congress should take action to reduce mass shootings ― a slight downtick from 51 percent in the previous survey, but up from 41 percent late last year. Sixty percent say it’s possible to enact new gun controls without violating the right to bear arms, down from late February’s high of 65 percent, but still above the 53-to-55 percent range it spanned last fall.

Nearly a quarter of the public choose gun policies as among the two issues most important to them. Among those who want Congress to act, that rises to 34 percent, ranking it only narrowly behind their top issue, health care, at 37 percent.

Other surveys this month also suggest that for now, Americans are still both paying attention to the gun control debate and more open to the idea than they’ve been in years. A March Gallup poll put backing for stricter gun laws at the highest level since 1993, thanks to rising support across partisan lines over the past two years. As The Washington Post notes, polling has found stronger, more consistent support for gun control now than in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Specific proposals, such as increasing the minimum age to buy guns, appear popular even among Republicans, relatively few of whom appear concerned that this administration will overreach on guns.

Gun control is likely to remain in the news for at least a while longer, as students and other advocates converge on Washington, D.C., this weekend for the March For Our Lives. What remains to be seen is whether the current increase in support for stricter laws represents a bounce or a turning point ― and, even if it’s the latter, whether supporters will continue to prioritize demanding political action.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 14-15 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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