Not a new phenomenon, either. In fact, incredibly enough, support for gun control actually declined after the Tucson shooting last year:
Not sure how reliable that Virginia Tech comparison is given the time lapse between the two polls but my strong hunch about the Tucson numbers is that they moved in the opposite direction you’d expect precisely because Gabby Giffords is a political figure. The fear among gun owners and fencesitters was, I assume, that her shooting would galvanize national Democrats to drop their squishiness about gun control and take it up aggressively. Result: A public preemptive backlash to anticipated new regulations, not unlike the sudden gun-buying surge in Colorado that Mark Hemingway flagged last week. Similarly, if The One gets elected to a second term, expect the weeks after election day to be another boom time for gun sellers as people prepare for possible new gun regs. After all, it’s happened before.
This, meanwhile, is fascinating:
I can’t think of an explanation offhand for that trend. In fact, I would have expected the opposite: The worse the economy gets, the more you’d think people would be willing to blame economic despair and “social problems” for driving the disturbed to acts of madness. I’m tempted to say this too is a function of worries about new gun-control regs — the more you fret that the government’s coming for your guns, the more willing you’ll be to blame the killer instead of “society” — but if that were true, we should see a further dip in support for gun control after Aurora in the top graph too, right? Instead, the numbers are flat since last year. Any theories?