Just a tenth of Americans thinks the nation has gotten better at preventing gun violence since the Newtown shooting, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll taken following the six-year anniversary of the massacre last week. Slightly under half say the situation hasn’t changed at all, while another 30 percent believe it’s gotten worse.
About half of Americans currently say it would be possible to enact some new gun regulations while maintaining Americans’ right to bear arms, more than double the 22 percent who believe that any regulations would be an infringement. But only 40 percent believe that it’s politically possible at this moment to pass new gun laws, with 34 percent say it’s currently impossible to do so.
Opinions on these, and most of the questions included in the poll, split heavily along political lines, with Hillary Clinton voters almost universally favoring action on guns and Trump voters substantially opposed to new restrictions. There’s also little agreement on the scope of the issue: Eighty-seven percent of Clinton voters, but just 27 percent of Trump voters, say gun violence is a very serious problem in the country.
There are, however, some points of agreement. Slightly more than three-quarters of the American public, for instance, favors strengthening background checks for selling and buying guns. Ninety-three percent of Clinton voters support such measures, as do 69 percent of Trump voters and two-thirds of nonvoters. The majority of all three groups also believe the nation hasn’t made progress in preventing gun violence.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the most recent HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
Between the fall of 2015 and this month, HuffPost has polled people on gun violence more than 20 times. Many of the surveys came in the aftermath of high-profile shootings: at a community college in Oregon, a congressional GOP baseball practice, a Las Vegas concert, a Texas church, or a Texas school. Others were fielded in relative lulls, to test how public opinion had settled once the issue had largely receded from headlines. On one occasion, a survey designed to fall in the latter category was interrupted, just before the final respondent weighed in, by the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
During that time, views have proved fluid, but they have showed little-sustained change. The belief that gun violence is a very serious problem fluctuated between 46 and 60 percent. The share of Americans who say it’s politically possible to pass new gun laws has dipped as low as 32 percent, in June of last year, and risen as high as 50 percent following the Parkland shooting. Some shootings appeared to provoke no notable change in public opinion whatsoever, as measured in the HuffPost/YouGov polls.
Other pollsters have found more evidence of a trend in favor of gun control. The progressive pollster Civiqs, which has also tracked opinions on gun control since 2015, finds that since the Las Vegas shooting, support has hovered in or above the low 50s, up from the mid-40s two years ago. Gallup’s most recent survey, taken this fall, found that 61 percent of Americans favor stronger gun laws, up from a low of 44 percent in 2009.
Nearly all polling on guns, including the HuffPost/YouGov survey, measured a profound reaction to the Parkland, Florida, shooting earlier this year, which created a new crop of gun control advocates and sparked an unusually prolonged national debate about the issue. Beliefs that new gun laws were both politically possible and compatible with the Second Amendment rose sharply, as students marched on Washington demanding gun reform and President Donald Trump even briefly lent his imprimatur to some efforts. Within months, however, views began to tick downward again.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 14-16 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.