After recent mass shootings, a majority of Americans desire stricter gun control laws

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
February 01, 2023, 10:43 PM GMT+0

In the first few weeks of 2023, the country experienced at least 39 mass shootings in which at least four people were injured or killed. Many days in January had more than one mass shooting. New polling from the Economist and YouGov finds some evidence that support for stricter handgun laws has increased (58% now support, up from 53% last November and 45% in April), but there remains doubt about whether stricter gun laws would have prevented any of the recent shootings: 39% believe stricter laws would have, but 41% say they would not have made a difference.

Support remains high for many gun control proposals, especially universal criminal and mental background checks (76% favor this strongly or somewhat) and the removal of guns from people who may be a danger to themselves or to others (67%). At least three in five Americans also favor each of the following: limiting concealed-carry licenses (64%), regulating gun storage within homes (61%), banning the sale of magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition (59%), and allowing private citizens to sue gun dealers who break the law (59%). Two other measures — allowing cities to designate gun-free zones and holding gun owners responsible for crimes committed by others with their guns — are each supported by roughly half of Americans (49%).

While gun control measures receive widespread support among Americans overall, attitudes vary sharply by party identity. In our latest poll, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor each of the 10 proposals asked about. The policy that is least popular among Democrats — allowing cities to designate gun-free zones — received the same level of Democratic support (71%) as the policy most favored by Republicans: universal criminal and mental background checks, backed by 71% of Republicans.

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on January 29 - 31, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Adobe Stock (M-Production)