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Snapshot: Americans Dissatisfied With U.S. Gun Laws

by Megan Brenan

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the sixth consecutive year, a majority of Americans say they are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws and policies. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults are now dissatisfied with the nation's gun laws and 39% are satisfied. Dissatisfaction has risen five percentage points from 2017 and is close to Gallup's 18-year high of 62%, recorded in 2016.

Americans' Satisfaction With the Nation's Gun Laws

These findings are based on a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 2-7.

Background: Majorities of the public have consistently expressed dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws since 2013, after a late 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Numerous mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. since 2012, most recently in October 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gallup first asked the public about their satisfaction with gun laws and policies in the country in 2001, at which time 38% were satisfied. Satisfaction rose in subsequent surveys, hovering near 50% from 2002 through 2012. Since then, satisfaction has generally held near 40%, with the highest dissatisfaction recorded one month after the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Satisfaction with U.S. gun policy diverges by party. Republicans are the most content when it comes to the country's gun laws. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans say they are satisfied, but even more Democrats (79%) are dissatisfied (and 18% are satisfied). Independents are more divided, with 57% dissatisfied and 41% satisfied. This year's 51-point gap in satisfaction with gun laws between Republicans and Democrats is more than double the average of the readings from 2001 through 2017, reflecting the climate of increasing political polarization in the U.S.

Those dissatisfied with gun laws are much more likely to say they want stricter regulation. A follow-up question, which was asked only of those who said they were dissatisfied with current gun laws, probed what respondents would like to see happen to those laws. Overall, 46% of the public is dissatisfied with current gun laws and wants them made stricter; 8% are dissatisfied and want them to be made less strict; and 5% are dissatisfied but want them to remain the same. The proportion of dissatisfied Americans preferring stricter laws is the highest Gallup has recorded, up nine points since 2017.

Americans Dissatisfied With U.S. Gun Laws Prefer That They Be More Strict
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Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-7, 2018, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.