President Barack Obama has vowed to keep pushing for new gun control measures and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the failed gun vote in the Senate was “just the beginning.” However, the latest Reason-Rupe national poll finds just 33 percent of Americans feel the “Senate should debate and vote on gun control legislation again,” while 62 percent want the Senate to “move on to other issues.”
This data is surprising given earlier polls finding what appeared to be overwhelming support for expanding background check for firearm purchases. For instance, Gallup found that 83 percent of Americans favored a law requiring background checks for all gun purchases. The Washington Post/ABC poll found that 86 percent of Americans support a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online.
Understandably the media punditry expected public outrage when the Senate voted down gun control legislation. However, a Pew Research Center poll found that 39 percent of Americans were relieved/very happy the “Senate vot[ed] down new gun control legislation that included background checks on gun purchases” while 47 percent were disappointed/angry. But then again, Gallup found that 65 percent thought the Senate “should have passed the measure to expand background checks for gun purchases.”
Subsequent to these polls Reason-Rupe asked Americans what they wanted the Senate to do next, finding that nearly two –thirds of Americans prefer the Senate to move on to other issues rather than continue to debate gun control.
Eighty-three percent of Republicans want the Senate to move on, as well as 66 percent of Independents; however, a majority (51 percent) of Democrats want the Senate to debate and vote again.
Women are far more likely than men to want the Senate to debate and vote again on gun control. While 72 percent of men want the Senate to move onto other issues, 54 percent of women agree, while 40 percent want the senate to vote on gun control again. This gender gap is not strongly correlated with marital status, age, or race, meaning that there is likely a true gender gap on this issue.
Support for the Senate voting on gun control again increases with educational attainment, particularly among those with post-graduate degrees. The Northeast is narrowly divided 46 to 52 while nearly three-fourths of Americans in the West want the Senate to move on to other issues.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted May 9-13 2013 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. Demographics and detailed tables are available here.
Correction: An earlier version of the table in the article had the numbers for Independents and Democrats reversed.