Nearly a year after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings spawned considerable U.S. debate about passing stricter gun control laws, almost half of Americans believe the laws covering the sale of firearms should be strengthened and half say they should stay the same or be less strict.
Public support for stricter gun laws is down from 58% in the days after the December 2012 Newtown shootings, and is lower than it was from 2000 through 2006, when, for the most part, solid majorities of Americans favored such laws. However, it remains slightly higher than from 2009 to 2011, when support for stricter laws fell to record lows of 44% and 43%.
The new poll also finds public opposition to banning handgun ownership holding at a record-high 74%, identical to a year ago. One in four Americans think the law should limit possession to police and other authorized persons.
Recent attitudes on this are markedly different from the 1980s, when barely half of Americans opposed a ban on civilian handgun ownership. It is also a major turnaround from a half century ago, when only 36% opposed such a ban. Opposition to banning citizens' possession of handguns mounted in the 1990s and 2000s, and first crossed the 70% threshold in 2009.