Mass Shootings Like Umpqua Lift Support for Gun Control, but Not for Long

PHOTO: A cache of seized weapons is displayed at an ATF news conference in Phoenix, Ariz. on Jan. 25, 2011.PlayMatt York/AP Photo
WATCH President Obama Speaks Forcefully About Oregon Shooting

Attitudes on gun control are equivocal, even conflicted.

Past heinous gun crimes haven’t shown much, if any impact, on these attitudes. After the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, leaving 15 dead, a Pew poll showed an 8 percent increase in people who favored controlling gun ownership. That swing was erased within a year.

Thirteen years later, the influence was even less noticeable after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children died. Only 2 percent more people favored gun control, with that difference being reversed about 13 months later.

Most U.S. adults support some kind of stricter gun control, but most also are skeptical that such laws will reduce gun deaths, and most see gun ownership as a basic right. These are reasons the issue hasn’t gained higher priority in public attitudes.

In polling this past summer:

  • 88 percent of U.S. adults favored background checks “on all potential gun buyers.” (CBS)
  • 85 percent favored making private sales and gun show sales subject to background checks. (Pew)
  • 70 percent favored a government database to track all gun sales. (Pew)
  • But fewer -- 52 percent -- favored making gun laws more strict overall. (CBS)
  • 52 percent also thought stricter gun laws would do “a lot” or “some” to help prevent gun violence, but 47 percent thought they’d help “not much” or “not at all.” (CBS)
  • In other words, Americans, by 60-40 percent, said they thought stricter gun control laws would not reduce gun-related deaths, according to a CNN poll.

  • Americans, by 54-40 percent, said gun ownership does more to prevent crime victimization than to put people’s safety at risk. (Pew)
  • And the public is divided about evenly on whether it’s more important to protect gun owners’ rights or to control gun ownership, 47-50 percent. (Pew)