Recent and historical polling information suggests that Americans will not markedly change their views on gun control as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings, says Washingtonpost.com. In a Post/ABC News survey last October, 61 percent of people said they tighter gun restrictions while 37 percent opposed more stringent regulations. But events like the Amish school shooting or even Columbine incident that managed to make gun violence in schools a part of the daily debate for several years don’t have any long-term impact on Americans’ overall beliefs. Since 1989, an average of 63 percent have expressed support for stricter gun laws — regardless of external events.
For more than a decade, Gallup has asked a standard question — “Do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now?” The results show that support for tighter gun control has actually weakened. In October 2004, 54 percent of Gallup’s sample agreed that “the laws covering the sales of firearms” should be “more strict,” while 11 percent favored “less strict” laws and 34 percent preferred to uphold the status quo. Compare that with 51 percent who said they favored stricter laws, 11 percent backing less strict regulations and 36 percent supporting the laws as they were written in 2002. Given the fairly entrenched views about gun control and apparent disconnect between tragedy and public opinion, it seems unlikely that the shootings at Virginia Tech will have a lasting impact on the political debate over guns.