Public support for gun rights has increased since the Dec. 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday that found, for the first time in more than two decades, that more Americans support gun ownership than gun control.
The waning support for gun control since Newtown's immediate aftermath is not, however, entirely surprising. It mirrors a pattern of public opinion observed after other mass shootings.
"The pattern is a painfully familiar one," South Texas College of Law Professor Josh Blackman and Yale University student Shelby Baird wrote in "The Shooting Cycle," an article published in May in the Connecticut Law Review. The authors analyzed how the government and the public react to mass shootings and found that after a tragedy, "support for gun control surges."
"With a closing window for reform, politicians and activists quickly push for new gun laws," Blackman and Baird wrote. "But as time elapses, support decreases. Soon enough, the passions fade, and society returns to the status quo."
Since January 2013, the month after the Newtown tragedy, support for gun rights has increased by 7 percentage points while support for gun control has fallen by 5 percentage points. According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans think that gun ownership does more to protect people, while 38 percent think that it does more to endanger personal safety.