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Gun Laws, Ownership, and Violence in America

The AP-NORC Center conducted a national survey of 1,054 adults to explore the public’s attitudes toward gun control and its impact on violence in the United States.

Six in 10 Americans support stricter gun laws in the United States, but many question whether tightening of regulations can actually prevent some forms of gun violence, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

This new survey comes in the wake of the deadliest shooting in modern American history. Sixty-one percent of Americans say they want gun laws to be made stricter, 11 percent would like to see loosening of gun laws, and 27 percent would like to see gun laws left as they are now. Though most would like to see more restrictions on gun ownership, few believe it will lead to a decline in some forms of gun violence. Fifty-three percent of Americans think increased gun control will reduce the number of accidental shootings and nearly half say there would be fewer mass shootings (49 percent) and homicides (46 percent). Fewer say stricter gun regulations would result in a decrease in suicides (40 percent) or gang violence (36 percent).

Owning a gun has marked influence on attitudes toward gun laws and their ability to deter violent crime in the United States. Seventy-six percent of Americans without a gun in their household support stricter gun laws compared with 38 percent of Americans who own a gun and 64 percent of Americans who live in a household in which someone else owns a gun. Gun owners are less likely than those who do not own a gun to say stricter gun laws will lead to a decrease in accidental shootings, mass shootings, homicides, suicides, or gang violence.

The nationwide poll was conducted October 12-16, 2017 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,054 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.