When guns are outlawed…

Public support for increased gun control declines

Over the last two decades, public support for stricter gun laws has declined, according to Gallup Poll surveys. While the most recent survey on the matter was taken last October, before the Aurora theater shootings, the question was asked after the January 2011 shootings near Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Gifford.

Here is a look at how opinions have trended over the years:

• In 1990 a Gallup poll found that 78 percent of Americans favored stricter regulation of guns. Last year only 43 percent of those polled said they favored stricter gun laws.

• On the other hand, a strong majority of the public (89 percent) doesn’t think that existing gun laws should be eased, according to the latest Gallup findings.

• Only 26 percent of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns, other than by police and other authorized people. Back in 1959, 60 percent favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure.

• Last November’s poll revealed for the first time greater opposition (53 percent) than support (43 percent) for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles. When the question was posed back in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57 percent for and 42 percent against an assault-rifle ban. Congress passed a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.

Source: Story by Jeffery M. Jones posted Oct. 26, 2011, on the website Gallup Politics.