A Gallup poll released today shows that the vast majority of Americans do not believe that handgun ownership should be limited to “authorized” persons like police or other law enforcement officials.

Only 27% of Americans say they support this type of ban (with 72% opposing); additionally, 43% of Americans say they have a gun somewhere in the home, with 28% saying they own one personally.

gallup handgun possession october 2015 chart

The 27% who support a ban represent a near-record low in the number of Americans who want to place extreme ownership restrictions on handguns. However, Gallup’s poll also showed that a majority of Americans do favor stricter rules about who can have access to and own handguns.

55% of those who responded want to see tighter regulations—a hike of 8% since last year—and fewer Americans want to see less strict regulations:

gallup gun chart october 2015

According to Gallup, it is mostly Democrats and Independents fueling this trend. Support for more regulations has increased both in those who do not own a gun, and those who claim gun ownership.

In their analysis, Gallup included a breakdown of how high-profile shootings have historically affected these numbers:

In 2007, the year of the Virginia Tech massacre, the percentage of Americans who favored stricter laws on gun sales dropped to a bare majority (51%) for the first time in several years. Since then, support for stricter laws had stayed under 50%, except in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. At that point, 58% of Americans said they were in favor of stricter laws on gun sales. Although support for stricter laws receded after those shootings, in which a young man fatally shot 20 children and six adults, it has yet to return to the 44% level it was at before that tragedy.

The latest increase, from the Gallup Crime poll conducted Oct. 7-11, came in the days after the most recent high-profile mass shooting, at a community college in Oregon. However, that event seems to have mainly affected Americans’ views about laws on gun sales, but not other topics relating to guns.

Their comment on the Oregon shooting is telling. After that event, the cycle beat to death the concept of restricting gun sales—and now pollsters believe that their samples are responding to that particular aspect of the gun debate. This tells me that conservatives and other pro-gun advocates should consider compartmentalizing that support as a way of better explaining why a Constitutional approach to gun ownership is the best approach.

If these numbers represent the beginning of a trend, conservatives have a lot of work to do.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller


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