Before the rash of shootings of the past few months, public support for increased gun control laws was at an all time low, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Gallup poll, which was conducted at the beginning of October, provides interesting context to the current debate over gun control. It also provides a water mark by which to measure if recent shootings have shifted the public mood in support of stricter gun laws.

The poll found that fewer than three in 10 respondents said there should be law banning the possession of handguns, except by police and other authorized personnel. That's the lowest number registered by a Gallup poll in nearly five decades.



The poll also found that just less than half of respondents said the laws governing the sale of firearms should be made stricter. That number was lowest percentage registered on that question since at least the early 1990s. It also shows a steep decline since the early 90s, when more than three quarters supported making gun laws more strict.

Recent shootings are bringing the debate over guns laws back into the national consciousness. In 48 hours last week, more than 20 people were killed in three shootings. And in the past month, at least eight homicides have killed 57 people in the country.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated on Tuesday that in light of the recent shootings Congress should take the lead on reinstating some form of regulation on assault weapons.

"Yes, it is," Pelosi said on ABC's "Good Morning America" when asked if the ball is in Congress's court now that Democrats control the White House. "And we are just going to have to work together to come to some resolution...We have to find some level of compromise,"

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com