(CNSNews.com) -- Despite the horrific mass shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Newtown, among others, where semi-automatic rifles were used, only 36% of Americans support banning such weapons, a percentage that is down from 44% in 2012 and 57% in 1996, according to Gallup, which conducted the latest survey. In addition, 61% of Americans totally oppose such a ban.
A semi-automatic rifle, which the media often refer to as an "assault weapon," is a gun that fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, used semi-automatic rifles but he also reportedly modified them with "bump stocks," which allows one to pull the trigger faster.
"The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifle rifles," said Gallup.
In the survey, conducted Oct. 5-9, Gallup asked, "Are you for or against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles?" 36% said they are for such a ban and 61% said they against it.
Broken down politically, the survey showed that 50% of Democrats support banning semi-autos, 31% of Indepentents support a ban, and 25% of Republicans.
For people who own guns, only 26% support a ban on semi-automatic rifles. For people who don't own guns, only 45% support a ban.
In addition to the question of rifles, only 23% of Americans favor a ban on handguns, which is down from 26% in 2011 and 36% in 2004, reported Gallup.
"In an era of ongoing terrorist attacks and mass shootings in the U.S., Americans are now more likely to oppose an assault weapons ban than they have been in two decades," said Gallup. "One reason may be the large increase in opposition to such a ban among Republicans. Whereas 20 years ago half of Republicans were open to such legislation, now only one in four are."
"But politics alone do not explain the declining support, since it has dropped among independents and Democrats as well, although on a smaller scale," said the survey firm.
"It is possible this represents a backlash against calls by some in the national media and the federal government to ban certain weapons after mass shootings occur," said Gallup. "This backlash may reflect growing apprehension that the government may infringe upon particular civil and personal liberties. Gallup finds even lower levels of support for other potential bans, such as those on handguns and cigarettes."
For the survey, Gallup spoke by telephone with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.