Vast majority of Americans approve of new gun laws. But they remain skeptical- Pew study

Of the US adults polled, 78% think the new gun law will do little to nothing at all to reduce gun violence – and 63% want Congress to pass another round of legislation.

PROTESTERS HOLD signs during a ‘March For Our Lives’ demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, March 2018 (photo credit: BOB STRONG / REUTERS)
PROTESTERS HOLD signs during a ‘March For Our Lives’ demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, March 2018
(photo credit: BOB STRONG / REUTERS)

Almost two-thirds (64%) of American adults are in favor of the new gun legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 25, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. 

Despite extensive support for the new law, however, most Americans remain skeptical it will do much to reduce gun violence in the country. According to the poll, conducted June 27-July 4 among 6,174 adults, more than three-fourths (78%) think the new gun law will do a little (42%) or nothing at all (36%) to reduce gun violence. Only 7% say the bill will do a lot, while 14% say they are not sure.

Americans want more legislation 

Americans are mostly familiar with the new gun legislation: Nearly eight-in-ten say they have heard or read a lot (25%) or a little (54%) about the gun bill signed into law last month, while 20% say they have heard nothing at all about the law.

The gun-safety law was the first significant legislation on the matter to pass in three decades. The House voted 234-193 for the bill, the day after a Supreme Court ruling broadly expanded gun rights. No Democrats were opposed, while 14 Republicans backed the measure. It was supported by major law enforcement groups and its passage was a rare defeat for US gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.

"The legislation... includes several strong steps to save lives, not only from horrific mass shootings but also from the daily massacre of gun crime, suicide and tragic accidents," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the debate.

 People pay their respects at the Robb Elementary School memorial, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a decade, in Uvalde, Texas, US May 30, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MARCO BELLO) People pay their respects at the Robb Elementary School memorial, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a decade, in Uvalde, Texas, US May 30, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MARCO BELLO)

The bill takes some steps on background checks by allowing access, for the first time, to information on significant crimes committed by juveniles. It also cracks down on gun sales to purchasers convicted of domestic violence. And it provides new federal funding to states that administer "red flag" laws intended to remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.

According to the Pew study, almost two-thirds (63%) say they would like to see Congress pass another round of legislation to address gun violence, compared with 35% who do not.

Debate along party lines 

The poll found that Republicans and Democrats differ sharply in views of the new gun law, its effectiveness and whether further gun legislation will be necessary. Passed with bipartisan support in Congress, the law draws overwhelming support from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents; 80% approve of the law, including 51% who say they strongly approve.

Notably, more Republicans and Republican leaners approve (47%) than disapprove (35%) of the new law, and 18% say they are not sure. However, Republicans who say they have heard “a lot” about the gun law are less supportive of it than those who say they do not know much about it. 

While neither Democrats nor Republicans believe the new gun law will do a lot to reduce gun violence, Democrats are considerably more optimistic about its effect (68% say it will do at least a little to reduce gun violence, compared with 29% of Republicans). Nearly six-in-ten Republicans (59%) say the new law will do nothing at all to reduce gun violence, compared with just 17% of Democrats who say the same.

Widespread support for new gun bill among most demographics 

Almost two-thirds of White (64%), Black (63%) and Hispanic (63%) adults approve of the law, as do three-fourths (75%) of Asian Americans, according to Pew. 

Months of back-to-back US mass shootings  

The Pew poll was conducted amid a series of mass shootings and rising levels of gun violence across the US including at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which together, 31 victims were killed.

It was nearly completed before the shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, which took another seven lives.

There have been over 350 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group.

Reuters contributed to this report.