A new poll further substantiated a trend in recent data: Support for gun control has gone up as support for a ban on “assault weapons” has gone down.
According to a Thursday report by Gallup, the share of respondents wanting stricter laws on gun sales rose to 66 percent from 52 percent in October. But the percentage of those favoring a ban on the “manufacture, possession and sale” of assault weapons decreased to 55 percent from 61 percent in 2019. These results are on par with Quinnipiac’s report earlier this month, in which the share of respondents supporting an assault-weapons ban fell to 50 percent, even as support for stricter gun laws rose to 57 percent from 45 percent.
Since 1990, Gallup has found support for stricter gun laws tends to rise after high-profile mass shootings and tends to ease during periods without them. This spike in support for tighter regulations comes on the heels of shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. It follows that trend, as did the numbers in the aftermath of 2018’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But support for banning AR-15s and similar rifles peaked in 2018 and has declined ever since, according to Quinnipiac.
Gallup’s new results show support for an assault-weapons ban dropped among Republicans by 12 points, to 26 percent, and among independents by 4 points, down to 53 percent. Democratic support rose by 4 points to 89 percent, although the appetite among Democratic politicians to pursue the policy has recently shown signs of waning in recent years.
While “assault weapon” doesn’t have a strict definition and bans have varied in how they are written, those bans are usually crafted to target guns such as the popular AR-15 rifle. Variations of that rifle have been used in some of the highest-profile mass shootings, including Uvalde and Buffalo, but the AR-15 is also the most popular rifle in the country and is used only in a small percentage of gun crimes each year, according to FBI data.
The poll also found a ban on handguns remains unpopular with Gallup respondents, although the percentage of those who support the measure ticked up in this latest poll, to 27 percent from 19 percent last year.
Gallup also found an increase in how many voters say gun policy is an important consideration for them in the coming mid-term election. According to the poll, 55 percent of registered voters say gun policy is “extremely important” to their vote and 27 percent say it is “very important” to their vote. That is higher than any Gallup poll about a congressional or presidential election since 2000.
This increased attention on gun legislation comes as federal lawmakers focused their efforts on crafting a bipartisan bill aimed at gun violence. Among other measures, the Senate bill released Tuesday extends prohibitions on the sale of firearms and provides funding for “red flag” laws.
Gallup asked respondents about three measures in the bill, and all received majority support. Requiring background checks for all gun purchases is popular among all groups at 92 percent. Prohibiting the sale of firearms from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others was slightly less popular at 86 percent. Support for “red flag laws” that allow courts to seize firearms from such individuals had the support of 81 percent of respondents.
Gallup said its data comes from a random sample of 1,015 adults, and the firm conducted interviews from June 1 to June 20. It also said its margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.