Support for Gun Control Continues to Decline, and Regress To The Mean

November 2nd, 2014

In The Shooting Cycle, Shelby Baird an I explain how following tragedies, such as the mass killing at Newtown, support for stricter gun control laws spike. And, afterwards, those numbers decrease, and regress to the mean. A recent Gallup poll confirms these numbers.

Ten years ago, three in five Americans (60%) said they favored stricter laws regulating the sale of firearms, but support fell to 44% in 2009 and remained at that level in polls conducted in the next two years. Days after the Newtown shooting, support for stricter gun sale laws swelled. Since 2012, however, Americans have retreated from those stronger attitudes about the need for more gun control, and the percentage of Americans who say the laws should be less strict — although still low — has edged up.



Support for stricter gun control laws peaked at 58% in 2013 after Newtown, then dropped to 49%, and in the most recent poll have dipped to 47%. A the same time, support for less strict laws has increased from 6% to 13% to 14%. Unsurprisingly, more people want to keep them the same.

These numbers fit in well with our overall meta graph, which is now slightly out of date.


Similarly, the percentage of Americans who want to ban hand guns continues to decline, and those who do not want to ban hand guns continues to rise. Now 73% of Americans do not want handguns to be banned.



Even Democrats are less supportive of stricter gun laws than they were two years ago–dropping from 79% to 71%.



Gallup’s conclusion supports our thesis well–despite shootings committed by deranged people with guns, support for gun control laws is dwindling. This is the regression to a declining mean.

Public demand for stricter gun sale laws is returning to levels seen throughout the past decade. After seeing a spike in support for stricter laws following the Newtown school shooting in 2012, the call for more stringent laws has settled to near-record lows. The percentage of Americans who say that handguns should not be banned is at a near-record high as well. This suggests that while shootings may still occur with disturbing regularity in the U.S., there is a disconnect between those events and support for making gun laws stricter.