Americans are increasingly opposed to tightening the country’s gun laws.
That’s according to the latest from Gallup, which found 52 percent of adults support the idea. While still a majority, that represents a drop of 15 points from 2018. It is also the lowest level of support for stricter gun laws since 2014.
“Gallup has been tracking the public’s views on this measure since 1990, when the nation’s crime rate was high and a record 78% of Americans supported stricter laws for gun sales,” the pollster said in a statement. “Since then, calls for tougher gun control have generally spiked in the wake of prominent mass shootings and faded as the memory of each receded.”
The poor polling presents a continued problem for President Joe Biden (D.) as he pursues tightening gun laws. The lack of public support for the effort likely further degrades any chances of passing his gun-control priorities through an already tightly divided Congress. That could force him to rely more on executive actions, such as his plan to ban possession of millions of guns equipped with pistol braces, to restrict gun ownership which requires him to own full political responsibility for any of the policies that turn out to be unpopular.
The Gallup poll is just the latest to show bad news for the President and other gun-control advocates. Pew Research found a similar drop in support for new gun laws back in September. President Biden’s approval on guns has dropped in several consecutive polls. Voters also recently told Morning Consult they now trust Republicans more than Democrats on gun policy.
The partisan gap played a significant role in the dropoff of support for new gun control in Gallup’s poll. Democrats and Republicans are on opposite sides of the spectrum, with 91 percent of Democrats supporting more laws while only 24 percent of Republicans do the same. However, Independents are driving the drop with their support for new gun laws falling 15 points over the past year.
Individual gun-control policies have also seen a dropoff in support, though many remain more popular than the general idea of tightening gun laws. The Pew Research poll from April found decreased support for banning “assault weapons,” restricting magazine sizes, and creating a government database, but all saw approval above 60 percent. A Beacon Research poll funded by the gun-control group 97 Percent that was published this month found similarly high levels of support for the policies but also found many supporters held significant reservations about the details of how they would work in practice.
The only specific policy Gallup polled, whether handguns should be banned, faced further erosion in its support–continuing a 60-year trend. Only 19 percent of Americans support banning the possession of handguns, down six points from 2020 and 41 points from 1961. However, the partisan gap remained evident with 40 percent of Democrats supporting a ban while only 14 percent of Independents and six percent of Republicans did the same.
The Gallup poll of 823 randomly-selected adults was conducted between October 1st and 19th via telephone. The Beacon poll was conducted online among 1,032 self-identified gun owners between September 23rd and 30th.