Gun control support just hit its lowest level in nearly a decade

Gone are the days of brief public attention to the need for more restrictions on gun sales and ownership. And instead it will be a sustained campaign to keep gun issues – and mass shootings committed – at the center of the public’s mind.

However, nearly four years on from Parkland, a familiar cycle has asserted itself.

Currently, only 52% of Americans polled say that “gun laws” should be stricter than they are now, the lowest number that Gallup has been measuring questions since 2014.

That marks a significant erosion of the question just three years ago when the country was still reeling from the 17 deaths in Parkland. At the time, two-thirds of respondents supported stricter gun laws.

In 2019, still 64% of people told Gallup they wanted stricter gun laws. This number drops to 57% in 2020 and now to 52% in 2021.

As Gallup noted in its release: “American support for stricter gun laws often increases in the aftermath of famous mass shootings and declines during the absence of such events. Changes in the party occupy the White House. can also affect preferences for gun laws. Generally speaking, the public favors stricter legislation when Republicans are in office and less strict legislation when Democrats are in office.”
“Something about Parkland was different,” Melissa Strassner, a survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting, told the New York Times in 2019. “They really inspired a nation.”

There is no doubt that there is some truth to that sentiment. Not only have they supported stricter gun laws in the more than a year after the Parkland shootings, state legislatures have taken unprecedented action to limit guns.

As Pew noted in 2018: “This has been an unparalleled year of success for the gun control movement in the United States. States across the country, including 14 with Republican governors, have enacted 50 new laws restricting gun access. , from banning ammunition stockpiles to allowing authorities to temporarily disarm potentially violent people.”

But, at least at the federal level, legislative dynamics have been harder to exploit.

On the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting in February, President Joe Biden called on Congress to act.

“I call on Congress to enact reform of conventional gun laws, including requiring background checks on all firearm sales, banning assault weapons and high-volume magazines, and eliminating immunity to gun manufacturers who deliberately put weapons of war on our streets.” Biden said. “We owe all the people we’ve lost and all those left behind grieving to make a change. Now is the time to act.”
While the House is led by Democrats through two measures to beef up background checks, the Senate is not expected to take any action.
Meanwhile, Americans are buying more guns than ever before. In 2020, nearly 23 million guns have been purchased – a record. That increase was continue until 2021.
And, no mass shootings are overlooked either. Follow Gun Violence Archives, there have been 638 mass shootings so far in 2021. (The website defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more victims are injured or killed, excluding the gunman.)

So what happened? It seems that after a long period of public support for stricter gun laws, the old political rules of the gun debate have been reasserted.

A new Quinnipiac poll is also taking place this week found that registered voters split 47% to 48% between supporting stricter gun laws and opposing them. It was also the lowest support for stricter gun laws among voters since late 2015 in a Quinnipiac poll. In February 2018, it peaked at 66% in their poll. A Pew Research poll back in April This year found a generally similar pattern.

What Parkland did was keep the issue on the news – and in people’s minds – longer. But these latest numbers from Gallup suggest the problem has now begun to subside again.


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