In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Gallup finds 58% of Americans in favor of strengthening the laws covering the sale of firearms, up from 43% in 2011. Current support for stricter gun laws is the highest Gallup has measured since January 2004, but still not nearly as high as it was in the 1990s.
These results are from a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Dec. 19-22, just days after the Newtown tragedy. Gallup's prior measure of Americans' attitudes toward new gun laws was conducted in October 2011. Since then, there have been several other mass shootings in the U.S., including one in July at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead and more than 50 wounded. More recently, a gunman killed his boss and four others at a factory in Minneapolis in September, and in August a U.S. Army veteran opened fire in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, killing six.
Perhaps as a result of these events, the new poll also finds that a record-high 47% of Americans favor passing new gun laws, up from 35% in 2011. Since Gallup first asked this question in 2000, majorities have consistently preferred enforcing the current laws more strictly without passing new laws.
Two aspects of the Newtown shooting that have been a focal point of recent discussions about gun laws are the semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity ammunition magazines used by the shooter. Several state and federal lawmakers have already announced that they will seek to ban both from the commercial market.
Nevertheless, Americans' views on the sale of assault rifles are unchanged. The slight majority, 51%, remain opposed to making it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles.