A poll conducted in the 48 hours after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., showed that support for stronger gun control laws had jumped to its highest level in at least five years while those thinking existing laws were enough dropped to its lowest point in more than a decade.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll
also showed a jump in the percentage of Americans who think the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday is indicative of a larger problem in the U.S.
Fifty-four percent of respondents told pollsters they favor more strict gun control laws, with 43 percent saying they do not.
The 11-point difference is the biggest support for stronger laws since April 2007 after 33 people were killed in a shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech University. That poll showed a desire for a crackdown by 25 points.
While the tilt toward stronger laws does not always move this much after a shooting, historically the murder of children has had a greater effect on the electorate.
National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein told CNN that legislators began moving toward the assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton after the school shooting in Stockton, Calif., in 1989.
"Public opinion about guns doesn't get reshaped overnight each time there's a shooting,” Brownstein said, “but that precedent suggests that an event that victimizes children could have more impact than most in tilting the balance toward support for measures to restrict access to guns."
By a 52 percent to 43 percent margin, those surveyed also said they thought the Newtown shooting was indicative of a larger overall problem, rather than it just being an isolated incident of violence.
CNN also reported that a Pew poll conducted immediately after the massacre at Sandy Hook showed that 47 percent thought a more broad problem exists.
In July 2012, after 12 people were killed and 59 wounded in a Colorado movie theater, Pew Research asked the same question and found that less than half of respondents — only 24 percent — thought the act was indicative of a larger problem.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted from Dec. 14 to 16, with 602 people answering questions. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
The new Pew poll was conducted Dec. 14 to 16 among 746 people and has a margin of error of 4.3 points.
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