For instance, a Pew Research survey taken in the wake of July’s shootings in an Aurora cinema found that 67 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that mass gun killings such as that “are just the isolated acts of troubled individuals.” Twenty-four percent said they “reflect broader problems in American society.”
The Pew poll found US attitudes toward guns little changed after Aurora. Prior to the shootings, 45 percent of respondents said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 49 percent said it was more important to protect the right to own guns. After the shootings, 47 percent said gun control was more important, while 46 percent said gun rights were more important.
Other polls echo the fact that this is a question on which the US is generally split. A 2011 Gallup survey found that 44 percent of voters thought US gun laws should be tightened, while 43 percent felt they should be kept as-is.
Yet this might not be quite the whole story. What’s clear is that US public opinion is against most flat gun bans. Seventy-three percent of respondents told Gallup that they would not support the banning of handguns, for instance.
Presented with detailed choices, however, many voters approve of particular moves to control or limit firearm ownership.
A ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, which can carry more than 10 bullets, appears to be widely popular. A 2011 ABC News/Washington Post survey found 57 percent support for such a ban, and 39 percent opposition.
A CNN/ORC poll from last August found an almost identical result on the clip question.
As to whether all gun purchasers should undergo a background check to determine if they have committed a felony, 96 percent of respondents said “yes,” in the CNN/ORC survey.