In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, politicians are actually discussing gun control and a flurry of numbers about firearms have surfaced. One of those numbers comes out of the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, which finds a five-year high in Americans who want stricter gun laws. But how high is that, really?
While 54 percent of the 602 Americans surveyed Friday through Sunday say they want stricter gun control laws, that's actually only a relatively small increase from the previous four years, and comes nowhere near to the peak level of 67 percent support for more severe laws which came following the Columbine shooting in 1999 and 2000, pollster Gary Langer writes at ABC. Public opinion has appeared to change in at least one capacity: more people see the Newtown shootings as an example of a societal problem, rather than an isolated incident. In today's poll 52 percent think the shooting reflects "broader problems" while 43 percent think it represented an isolated act. Compare that to a poll taken after the movie theater shooting in Aurora this past summer when a whopping majority, 67 percent, believed the incident reflected isolated acts. This mirrors a Pew poll out today which finds that 47 percent of Americans think shootings like the one in Newtown are the result of "broader problems in society" compared to 44 percent who think they are "isolated acts."