Gallup’s latest gun rights-themed poll shows that by and large, Americans haven’t been swayed by high-profile shootings into ceding their Second Amendment rights.

In the wake of the 2012 shootings at Newtown, 58% of Americans polled said they favored stricter laws governing gun ownership; since then, however, that number has dropped to 47%.

Via Gallup:

The percentage favoring stricter gun sale laws in the two years since Newtown occurred has declined despite steady and tragic high-profile shootings in the U.S at schools, malls and businesses. This past week, shootings occurred at a Seattle-area school and of police officers in Sacramento and Placer County, California. Amidst events like these in 2014, and the resulting calls for stricter gun sale laws, the 47% who favor stricter laws is just above the historical low of 43% measured in 2011.

Ten years ago, three in five Americans (60%) said they favored stricter laws regulating the sale of firearms, but support fell to 44% in 2009 and remained at that level in polls conducted in the next two years. Days after the Newtown shooting, support for stricter gun sale laws swelled. Since 2012, however, Americans have retreated from those stronger attitudes about the need for more gun control, and the percentage of Americans who say the laws should be less strict — although still low — has edged up.

Numbers reflecting the percentage of Americans who favor a law banning the private ownership of handguns is also low, with only around 26% supporting a ban:

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Across the board, support for stricter regulations has dropped in every demographic save Independents: support ticked up one percentage point between 2012 and 2014. Even Democrats, liberals, and moderates have slowly lost enthusiasm, their support dropping 8 percentage points across the board.

This is good news for right-leaning candidates and Second Amendment advocates, but the apparent lack of a correlation between mass shootings and support for stricter gun laws doesn’t necessarily mean that conservatives should back off on positive messaging about gun ownership and self-defense. Fear is a powerful motivator, and we shouldn’t have to rely on knee-jerk responses to build up a solid base of support for gun ownership.

Democrats refused to let the 2012 tragedy in Newtown go to waste; if we’re smart, we’ll apply the same logic to how we take advantage of the growing base of Americans who support a strong Second Amendment.


(Background on video here.)