The Corner

Newtown’s Impact on Public Opinion

The atrocities in Newtown constituted a turning point in the Beltway debate on gun control, with Democrats now preparing to introduce — and President Obama vowing to pass — new legislation aimed at further restricting gun ownership. The tragedy in Connecticut seems to have had a similar effect on journalists, who have been even more outspoken in the wake of this tragedy than in other instances. 

Whether their sentiments are shared by the public at large, though, is another question, and a new USA Today poll suggests that they’re not. The most surprising finding comes in the last line of the story linked above: “The USA TODAY/Gallup poll found 54% have a favorable opinion of the NRA, down six points from 2005, but generally in line with a series of polls done from 1993-2000.” 

USA Today conducted a similar survey just over a year ago, and the only issue on which there has been a measurable shift is in favor of passing new laws as opposed to enforcing existing laws more strictly. Asked about support for specific laws, though, the responses are different. A majority of Americans, then and now, oppose a ban on the sale and manufacturing of semiautomatic weapons as well as a ban on the possession of handguns. The Newtown massacre appears to have had no statistically significant effect on the public’s feelings on these issues. 


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