Gun control policies have been a longstanding debate among Americans throughout our history. It remains one of the most difficult and controversial political issues in modern times.
We know the statistics all too well. Mass shootings have been on the rise in recent years, but has public opinion changed due to the increase, and what impact does it have on federal or state policies?
The majority of Americans (59%) believe it is more important to control gun violence compared to those who feel it is more important to protect gun rights (35%), according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll conducted after the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. These poll results show that public opinion supporting gun control is at its highest point in nearly a decade.
Recent polling indicates that gun control may also become a voting issue. Over 70% of adults stated that recent shootings will make them more likely to head to the polls this November, as reported in the above NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Another recent survey conducted by ABC News/Ipsosfound that 72% of Americans view gun violence as extremely or very important in determining their votes in the midterm elections.
Public opinion polling on gun control has traditionally been along party lines, with Democrats more likely to support gun control than Republicans. However, new polling from USA TODAY and Ipsos found that 50% of Republicans support stricter gun laws following the rise in shootings this year, up from 35% last year. This is not the first-time polling has indicated a high level of support among Republicans. USA Today reports that in 2018, Republican support for gun measures reached a high of 59% and dropped in 2021 to a low of 35%.
Rising support for action may explain today’s changing political landscape as a group of Senate negotiators – 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans – announced this week that they have secured a compromise deal. If Congress passes this legislation, it would be one of America’s most significant responses to gun violence.