There is no denying that Americans are deeply divided on many issues, and not surprisingly firearms highlight the divide like few other issues today. According to data from a new Gallup poll, a slight majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s guns laws and policies.
The recent poll found that 56 percent of Americans are dissatisfied, and this marks the ninth consecutive year of majority-level dissatisfaction since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. However, 42 percent of U.S. adults expressed satisfaction with current U.S. gun laws.
The divide was largely on political lines, with 69 percent of Republicans and Republican leaning voters, as well as 22 percent of Democrats and Democrat leaning voters saying they were satisfied with the state of gun laws; while 68 percent of Democrats and leaners want gun laws to be stricter.
Watching the Trends
Gallup conducted the poll on American voters’ opinions on gun laws every January from 2001 to 2008, and then resumed the polling on this issue in 2012. Satisfaction had been on the rise and actually neared 50 percent from 2002 to 2012, but following the tragic shooting in Newton satisfaction for the gun laws went on the decline.
The height of dissatisfaction was in January 2016, one month after the December 2015 mass shooting/terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, when the level of dissatisfaction reached 62 percent.
The latest findings preceded President Joe Biden’s February 14 calls for what he said were “commonsense gun law reforms,” which marked the third anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. President Biden has proposed greater background checks on all firearms sales, a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as greater accountability from gun makers. Still at issue is how this would be accomplished and how gun owners might be compensated.
The Sign of the Divide
Gun control remains a largely partisan issue, with the calls for stricter gun laws largely coming from Democrats and leaners, while Republicans and leaners have maintained support for the existing laws.
Overall, as President Biden has called for stricter gun control, only 41 percent of the public has expressed dissatisfaction with current gun laws and wants them to be made stricter. While seven percent are somehow dissatisfied yet want them to remain the same, eight percent are dissatisfied and want them to be made less strict.
That is one component of these polls that is largely missing in a lot of reporting. The dissatisfaction largely implies that the populace only wants stricter gun control, and while just eight percent want them less strict that is still a significant number that further highlights the divide.
Moreover, 69 percent of Republicans are satisfied, while 68 percent are dissatisfied. With such sides firmly sticking to their proverbial guns on this issue, it seems likely a status quo will be maintained, regardless of any calls from the White House.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.