Range safety officer Luis Pena, 23, (R) demonstrates gun safety to Faith Herradura, 23, at the Los Angeles gun club in Los Angeles, on January 23, 2013.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Americans still divided on gun-control legislation


Americans remain divided about gun-control laws almost one year after a shooter killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Almost half—49%—of the country believes legislation should be “more strict,” according to a new Gallup poll released Friday. Thirty-seven percent think the laws should be “kept as now,” and 13% want “less strict” laws. Public support for stricter gun laws was at 58% in the days after the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Opposition to banning handgun ownership remains at 74%, a record-high that was the same last year. Just one in four Americans believe the law should limit possession to authorized personnel, according to the poll.

The majority of Democrats—77%—are in favor of tightening gun laws, but only 23% of Republicans voted similarly. Additionally, 37% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans support a ban on the possession of handguns.

Favorability for stricter gun laws fell to record lows—44% and 43%—between 2009 and 2011.

Gallup released the poll on the same day as destruction began of the Sandy Hook Elementary School building. Newtown residents voted in favor earlier this month to accept a $50 million grant to demolish the structure where 20 students and six educators were killed on Dec. 14. Students currently attend classes nearby at Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe.

Razing is expected to end ahead of the shooting’s one-year anniversary, and the new building could open by December 2016.

Related: Sandy Hook Elementary School demolition begins

Fatal rampages and shooting attempts by gunmen around the country–in Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, DC, and most recently Nevada–set off a national call for stricter gun policies. But the debate has faded from headlines after the Senate in April failed to pass a bipartisan background checks bill. The president last month said he fears mass killings are the “new normal.”

“We’re confronting yet another mass shooting,” President Obama said following last month’s rampage at the Washington Navy Yard. “And today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital. It targeted our military and civilian personnel.”

Gun Policy and Gun Violence

Americans still divided on gun-control legislation