Public opinion is on our side!
The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles. Thirty-six percent now want an assault weapons ban, down from 44% in 2012 and 57% when Gallup first asked the question in 1996.
Assault rifles have been a contentious issue in American life for decades. Two years after President Bill Clinton signed a federal assault weapons ban in 1994, Gallup found that a solid majority of Americans favored such a ban. By the time the 10-year ban expired in 2004, Americans were evenly divided. And by 2011, public opinion had tilted against the assault weapons ban, with 53% opposed and 43% in favor. In Gallup’s 2016 Crime poll, conducted Oct. 5-9, opposition now exceeds support by 25 percentage points, 61% to 36%.
Perhaps paradoxically, opposition toward a ban has increased against a backdrop of multiple mass shootings and terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators used assault rifles. These guns were used in high-profile incidents, including the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, and the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.
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