Support for stricter gun laws in the U.S. is at its lowest point since 2016 and dropped a full seven percentage points since last year, according to a new survey by Gallup.
Pollsters cite the COVID-19 pandemic, recent social unrest, and the presidential election as the causes of the decline. Gallup also notes that this year hasn’t seen a high-profile mass murder, which often cause support for gun control to rise.
The poll released November 16 estimates that 57 percent of American adults favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms. That number hasn’t been that low since 2016, when 55 percent said they favored stricter gun laws.
This year’s poll also found that 34 percent of Americans believe gun laws should be “kept as they are,” which represents a four percentage point increase since last year. Nine percent of Americans believe gun laws are too strict.
Gallup first began polling Americans’ views on gun laws in 1990, and has continued that poll with the question, “In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”
A record-high 78 percent of Americans said in 1990 that gun laws should be more strict. Since then, support for stricter gun control laws steadily fell to a low of 44 percent in 2012. The number spiked that year following the Sandy Hook massacre, and increased again to its recent high of 67 percent following the Parkland massacre.
Support for stricter gun laws varies by demographic with women, coastal residents, and city residents more likely to favor strict gun control measures.
But political party is the strongest indicator of a person’s views on gun laws. Only 22 percent of Republicans believe gun laws should be more strict while 62 percent believe they should be kept as they are. Eighty-five percent of Democrats, on the other hand, believe gun laws should be stricter, and only 13 percent say they should remain the same.
Republicans are also more likely than any other political party to say that gun laws should be less strict (16 percent).
The percentage of Republicans who believe gun laws should be more strict has never been lower, and the current 22 percent represents a 14 percentage-point drop since last year. The views of Democrats, meanwhile, remained largely the same, dropping only three percentage points since last year.
Gallup also noted that the percent of Americans who say they own a gun has ticked up from 30 percent to 32 percent, though they claim that this change is not “statistically significant.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that about 7 million Americans have purchased a firearm for the first time this year.