Center for American Progress

How Polls Can Keep Up with Americans’ Opinions on Guns

How Polls Can Keep Up with Americans’ Opinions on Guns

A new CAP issue brief takes a look at how polling has—and has not—managed to capture Americans' true attitudes about guns.

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For years the conventional wisdom has said that “gun control” is a deeply polarizing and divisive issue and that support for stronger gun laws has been declining. In the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, however, a wealth of new data challenges this conventional wisdom. First, public opinion has shifted significantly. By many measures, support for stronger gun laws has substantially increased. Second, signs of an emerging national consensus on many gun issues—which was actually developing prior to the Newtown shooting—are also evident.

A new CAP issue brief—co-authored by a bipartisan team of pollsters who have each conducted public-opinion research on attitudes toward guns in recent years—hopes to set the record straight and provide tools for polling outlets and reporters going forward. It focuses on three key points:

  • Newtown changed the debate.
  • Much of the pre-Newtown polling missed emerging trends of Americans’ views on gun issues.
  • There is an emerging consensus on guns among the American public.

For more on this topic, please see:

  • What the Public Really Thinks About Guns by Margie Omero, Michael Bocian, Bob Carpenter, Linda DiVall, Diane T. Feldman, Celinda Lake, Douglas E. Schoen, Al Quinlan, Joshua Ulibarri, and Arkadi Gerney

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