Most Americans Now Support Stricter Gun Control Laws

But for how long?

A candlelight vigil was held at Umpqua Community College for those killed during a mass shooting at the school on October 1.Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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A majority of Americans now support tougher laws controlling gun sales, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. In a year marked by a series of deadly mass shootings, 55 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control legislation—an increase of 8 percentage points from last year.

But if past polling trends are any indication, support for gun control may quickly subside as the most recent mass shootings recede from memory. Support for more stringent gun legislation climbed to 58 percent in 2013, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed 26 lives, but promptly dropped to 49 percent within a year.

Gallup’s poll was conducted from October 7 to 11, just one week after a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon and four months after the massacre of African American parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Support for gun control rose nearly equally among gun owners and non-owners alike, jumping by 6 and 7 percentage points, respectively. Republicans registered a slight decline of 2 percentage points in support for gun control laws, while support rose by 6 points among Democrats and 11 percentage points among independents.

Even if Americans’ concern about guns proves ephemeral, gun control has quickly become a key issue in the Democratic presidential primary contest. Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the topic during the first Democratic debate last week, with Clinton promising to take on the National Rifle Association and Sanders finding himself under attack from all four of his rivals for his less aggressive stance on guns.

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