Support for stricter US gun laws at lowest level since 2016

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Support for tougher gun laws has dropped to its lowest levels since 2016 as gun sales reached record highs this year amid the coronavirus pandemic and a spike in violent crime nationwide. 

Around 57% of Americans favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, a seven-percentage point decline since last year, according to a Gallup poll published Monday. At the same time, 34% of American adults prefer current gun laws while 9% favor fewer regulations. 

The numbers come absent a high-profile mass shooting that often accompanies calls for more gun control. 

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John Erickson points to half-empty handgun racks in his Bridgeport., Neb., shop earlier this month. A recent Gallup poll showed a decline in support for tougher gun laws.  Gun shops, big box or locally owned stores said they’re struggling to keep popular firearms and ammunition stocked because of supply shortages and increased demand. (Danielle Prokop/The Star-Herald via AP)

"In a year that has seen record-high gun sales, Americans' appetite for gun control is the lowest it has been since 2016, before mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nev., and Parkland, Fla.," Gallup reported. 

As of Nov. 2, an estimated 18.6 million firearms were sold this year. 

Among Democrats, support for stricter gun laws polled at 85% while only 22% of Republicans agreed, the lowest for the group in the past two decades, representing a 14-point drop from last year. Independents polled at 60%. 

The 63-point difference between Democrats and Republicans is the largest gap over the past 20 years. 

Support for a ban on handguns dipped to 25%, near the lowest point in Gallup's 40-year trend. Last year, 29% of respondents favored a handgun ban. 

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Gallup, which conducted the poll from Sept. 30-Oct. 15, said the sharp drop in Republican support for tough gun laws coincides with the coronavirus pandemic, a sharp uptick in crime and civil unrest and the presidential election. 

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