But while gun control in general is popular, banning handguns entirely is not. Better enforcement is preferred to new legislation and three-quarters of Americans believe the Constitution guarantees individuals the right to own guns, according to ABC News polling director Gary Langer.
Perhaps more telling, in the wake of notorious incidents such as the murder of five girls in a Amish schoolhouse last year -- the nation's third deadly school shooting in a week -- there was little to no impact on the public's views on gun control.
In older polls, Americans have placed more blame for gun violence on the influences of upbringing and culture than the availability of guns.
Langer said then-Gov. Bush reflected this thinking in the second presidential debate in the 2000 election campaign, when he called gun crime more "a matter of culture" than one to be addressed through legislation -- "a culture that somewhere along the line we've begun to disrespect life."
Gun control has been largely absent from the congressional agenda, even though Democrats now find themselves in control, and most Democrats vying for the 2008 presidential nomination have not been talking up the issue.
In the wake of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech, Democratic strategist Chris Lehane thinks Democrats might return to the gun issue even though he believes they have to do it in a way that does not reinforce the notion that the Democratic candidates are "out of touch elitists."
"Technology allows folks to redefine the issue at some level so it pole vaults over the guns vs. no guns Second Amendment fault line," Lehane told ABC News. "Thus, instead of talking about registration the focus should be on safety reforms like locks and bullet tracing."
Lehane also thinks Democrats are well served by "going on the offensive" and talking about Republicans as being "anti-hunter" by not protecting open spaces for hunting and fishing as Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., have done in their home states.
But, as Lehane and many other Democratic strategists know, gun control has not been a winning issue for their party.
Many see the 2000 presidential election as a political turning point in the long-standing battle over gun control.
Eight years ago, in the wake of the Columbine shootings, Lehane, then Vice President Al Gore's spokesman, relished a fight between Bush and Gore on gun control.
"We always like comparisons to Republicans on this issue," Lehane told The New York Times in July 1999. "If the holster fits, wear it."
In the wake of the Columbine shootings, Gore went far beyond anything President Clinton had proposed and called for photo licenses for all new handgun owners and banning cheap handguns.
In a thinly veiled swipe at then-Gov. Bush, Gore said in the run up to the 2000 election, "Some want more concealed weapons -- but they can't conceal the fact that they're just doing the NRA's bidding."
But by the time the dust had cleared on the 2000 presidential race, Democrats were singing a very different tune. Many Democrats believe guns were one of several issues that saw white men in rural states flock to Bush over Gore.