Poll: Little Change In Views On Handguns

There's been little change in Americans' views on gun control in the wake of last week's shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll.

A majority favors tighter handgun laws, but not in higher numbers than in the past. More than half said stricter laws could have helped prevent at least some of the violence at Virginia Tech, but Americans continue to oppose a ban on all handguns.

In all, 66 percent of those surveyed think there should be stricter laws covering the sale of handguns, while just 4 percent say the laws should be less strict. Twenty-eight percent think the laws should be kept as they are.

Those numbers are about the same as in August 1999, four months after the
shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, when 67 percent said they favored stricter handgun laws.

SHOULD LAWS COVERING THE SALE OF HANDGUNS BE …?

Now
More strict
66%
Less strict
4%
Kept as they are
28%

8/1999
More strict
67%
Less strict
5%
Kept as they are
23%

Just 33 percent favor a ban on the sale of all handguns except those issued to police, while 64 percent oppose such a ban.

Support for a handgun ban has decreased somewhat in recent years. In April 1999, just days after the shootings at Columbine, 43 percent said they favored banning handguns.

Read the complete CBS News/New York Times poll results.
On the question of whether stricter laws could have helped limit the violence at Virginia Tech, 53 percent said tougher laws would have had some impact, although only 32 percent said stricter gun laws would have helped a lot.

Four in 10 said stricter gun laws would have had no impact.

A BAN ON THE SALE OF ALL HANDGUNS

Now
Favor
33%
Oppose
64%

April 1999
Favor
43%
Oppose
53%

One in four Americans thinks letting people carry concealed handguns would have reduced some of the violence at Virginia Tech. But the same number think it would have made things worse.

Not surprisingly there are sharp partisan differences on the gun control issue. Seventy-eight percent of Democrats support tougher handguns laws, compared with 51 percent of Republicans. Eighty-two percent of Republicans oppose a handgun ban, compared with 55 percent of Democrats.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 644 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 20-22, 2007. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
  • Joel Roberts

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