Gun Control Polls Shift After Tragic Shootings But Party Affiliation Is Key

A Gallup poll taken in October 2011 showed that 54 percent of Americans felt that gun laws should remain as they are or be less strict. But in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that killed 20 children and six adults, a more recent poll tells a different story.

A CBS News Poll taken Monday and after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., shows that 57 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control. However, when broken down along political lines, the results tell a more dramatic story.

In the CBS poll, 36 percent of the respondents were Democrats, and of that number, 78 percent favor more strict gun control laws. Yet when the 24 percent who identified themselves as Republicans were asked the same question, only 38 percent favor stronger gun control laws in America.

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The Gallup poll can be seen here. The CBS New Poll can be viewed here.

Within hours after Friday's shooting, notable politicians such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who made the Sunday talk show rounds, said gun control should involve three specific steps.

"One is to ban assault weapons, try and reinstate the assault weapons bans," Schumer said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Second is to limit the size of clips to maybe no more than 10 bullets per clip, and third is to make it harder for mentally unstable people to get guns."

But Kurt Schlichter, an attorney, veteran and writer living in Los Angeles disagrees with liberals promoting gun control and questions what law could have been passed that would have prevented last Friday's tragedy.

"Not a single politician who has suggested tighter gun control laws is addressing the fundamental issues we are facing," Schlichter told CP. "I mean, what of the three points that Sen. Schumer suggested would have prevented the travesty at Sandy Hook? Not a single one."

"First, the shooter could have murdered these children with any type of gun. He could have carried multiple clips and reloaded within a second and as someone who was mentally unstable, he didn't personally purchase any of the weapons used. This is nothing more than liberals trying to get even with people they feel are their cultural inferior – namely conservatives who support gun rights and the second amendment."

According to news reports, there was no one in the school at the time of the shooting that was armed. Not even a police officer.

Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for The Atlantic makes the case that if no one can defend themselves or others at a school or other public venue such as a movie theatre, then gun control is not the answer. "I don't know anything more than anyone else about the shooting in Connecticut at the moment, but it seems fairly obvious that there was no one at or near the school who could have tried to fight back."

"People should have the ability to defend themselves. Mass shootings take many lives in part because no one is firing back at the shooters," he wrote. "The shooters in recent massacres have had many minutes to complete their evil work, while their victims cower under desks or in closets. One response to the tragic reality that we are a gun-saturated country is to understand that law-abiding, well-trained, non-criminal, wholly sane citizens who are screened by the government have a role to play in their own self-defense, and in the defense of others (read The Atlantic article to see how one armed school administrator stopped a mass shooting in Pearl Mississippi)."

Gallup noted that tragic incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 have not affected the generally downward trend in support for stricter laws. After last week's shooting, Gallup expects a "short-term uptick in the percentage of Americans wanting stricter gun laws," which also happened after Columbine.

But "the real issue will be the degree to which the general pattern is disrupted on a longer-term basis," the Gallup report reads. "This historical pattern would suggest that long-term attitudes about gun control will not be substantially changed as the result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. It is possible, however, that this latest tragic incident could be a tipping point."

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