Four Years After Sandy Hook, Barely Anyone Thinks We're Closer To Stopping Gun Violence

Opinions about how to address gun violence are divided along partisan lines.
A woman touches a printout of messages from teenagers around the United States at a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hoo
A woman touches a printout of messages from teenagers around the United States at a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec.18, 2012.

Four years after the Sandy Hook massacre, less than a tenth of Americans think that the U.S. has made any progress toward preventing gun violence, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey.

Nine percent of Americans say that society has gotten better at preventing gun violence, while 53 percent say it hasn’t changed, and 26 percent that things have worsened ― an even gloomier outlook than in December 2014, when just 18 percent believed things had gotten worse.

While 49 percent now say that mass shootings are something that can be stopped, 31 percent consider such shootings to be “just a fact of life in America today.” Another 20 percent aren’t sure. Respondents say by a 9-point margin, 43 percent to 34 percent, that it’s currently politically possible to pass stricter gun laws.

Overall, 48 percent would like to see laws covering the sale of handguns made more strict, with 13 percent saying they should be made less restrictive and 29 percent that they should be left unchanged.

By a 5-point margin, 43 percent to 38 percent, Americans say that stricter gun control laws and enforcement would do more to prevent shootings than would allowing more private citizens to carry guns for protection. A plurality, 42 percent, say stricter gun control laws would reduce the number of shootings in the United States, while 11 percent think they would increase shootings, and a third that they wouldn’t make much difference.

Opinions, however, are sharply divided along partisan lines, with Democrats more than twice as likely as Republicans to think that increased gun control would help to reduce shootings.

Democrats say by a 46-point margin, 66 percent to 20 percent, that stricter gun laws would do more to stop shootings than arming more private citizens. Republicans say by a 38-point margin, 61 percent to 23 percent, that allowing more private citizens to carry guns would be more effective. Independents are close to evenly split between the two positions, with 39 percent favoring allowing more people to carry guns for protection, and 36 percent preferring more gun laws and enforcement.

There’s also substantial disagreement on how serious an issue gun violence is. Three-quarters of Democrats, but just 42 percent of independents and 37 percent of Republicans, consider gun violence to be a “very serious” problem facing the nation.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 9-12 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.

The Huffington Post 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. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. 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.