Americans’ belief that society and government can do something about mass shootings is at a new high, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Most of the public favors stricter gun laws, the survey finds, with more than 4 in 10 saying that recently enacted gun legislation doesn’t go far enough to change things.
The survey was conducted June 13 to July 13, a few weeks after the mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. That field period spanned additional acts of gun violence, including a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, as well as the passage of the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades.
Nearly 7 in 10 US adults (69%) say that government and society can take action that will be effective in preventing shootings like the one in Uvalde from happening again, with 30% saying that shootings like the one in Uvalde will happen again regardless of what action is taken by government and society.
The share of Americans who think that government and society can do something about mass shootings has risen over the past decade, according to CNN’s polling. In surveys conducted after five mass shootings between 2011 and 2017, fewer than half of the public thought effective action would be possible. In 2018, following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that number rose to 64%.
Support for stricter gun control – which often spikes in the wake of high-profile shootings – currently stands at levels reminiscent of those following the Parkland shooting. A 66% majority of Americans support stricter gun control laws, up from 60% in 2019, and just below the high of 70% in 2018. In the new poll, intense support for more regulation also outpaces intense opposition: 52% of Americans strongly favor stricter laws, while 19% strongly oppose them.
A near-universal 92% of Democrats support stricter gun laws, as do 65% of independents and 39% of Republicans. GOP support for stricter gun laws remains lower than it was after Parkland, when it reached 49%; the levels of Democratic and independent support for stricter gun laws are similar now to where they stood four years ago.
A 58% majority of Americans say they believe stricter gun control laws would reduce the number of gun-related deaths in the country. That’s up from 49% in 2019 and again similar to the 56% following Parkland.
The new federal gun law includes policies to provide funding to support state-implemented red flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people who are considered dangerous, enhance the background check process for those younger than 21 who try to buy a gun such as an AR-15, so that mental health and juvenile records are available as part of the background check, and expand funding for programs to treat mental illness.
Given that description about the law, 45% say that those provisions don’t go far enough to change US gun laws, with another 39% saying they do the right amount, and just 16% that they go too far. (Some respondents were asked about the plan before it passed Congress and was signed into law by President Joe Biden, and others afterward, but opinions on the measures were about the same before and after it was enacted.)
Biden gets a 39% approval rating for his handling of gun policy, with 60% disapproving. A 65% majority of Democrats approve, lower than Biden’s overall 83% job approval rating from his party.
A 70% majority of Democrats say the changes to gun laws don’t go far enough. About half of Republicans, 52%, say they do about the right amount, with 26% saying they go too far and 21% not far enough. Among those Americans who think government and society can take action to prevent shootings like Uvalde, 53% say the changes don’t go far enough. Among those who live in a gun-owning household, 44% say the law does about the right amount, with 32% saying it falls short and 23% that it goes too far. Most of those who live in non-gun households say the law doesn’t go far enough (54%).
Worries about gun violence also strike home for much of the public. About 58% of Americans say they are at least somewhat worried about someone in their family becoming a victim of gun violence, with 26% very worried. There’s a partisan gap in reported levels of concern, with 41% of Democrats and just 18% of Republicans and 17% of independents saying they’re very worried. There’s also a sizable difference between White people and people of color: 72% of people of color at least somewhat worried, compared with 49% of White Americans.
About 16% of Americans say they were somewhat or very worried about a mass shooting at their school growing up. Such concerns were very rare for older Americans: just 4% of those older than age 65, 6% of those ages 50-64 and 11% of those ages 35-49 say that they were even somewhat worried. But there’s a stark generational divide. Among adults 34 and younger, 38% say they grew up worrying about a school shooting.
Younger people of color are especially likely to have experienced fears of a school shooting. About one-quarter (24%) of people of color who are younger than age 45 say they were very worried about the possibility of a mass shooting at their school, compared with just 7% of White people in the same age group.
The new CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS June 13 through July 13 among a random national sample of 1,459 adults initially reached by mail, and is the third survey CNN has conducted using this methodology. Surveys were either conducted online or by telephone with a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.