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31% Blame Lack of Gun Control, Not Shooters in Gun Crimes

Americans are closely divided over whether more stringent control of guns could have helped prevent this weekend’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue. But one-third of Americans think access to guns is more at fault than the killers in incidents of this kind.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 46% of American Adults believe stricter gun control laws would help prevent shootings like the one in Pittsburgh. Nearly as many (43%), however, disagree. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

A year ago following a mass shooting in Las Vegas, 43% said more gun control would help prevent incidents like this; 46% disagreed. 

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Americans say that in crimes involving use of a gun, the shooter is more to blame than the availability of guns in America. But 31% disagree, saying the availability of guns is more to blame.

Democrats (51%) are much more likely than Republicans (13%) and those not affiliated with either major party (25%) to blame the availability of guns for mass shootings more than the person who pulls the trigger.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on October 29-30, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans said in an April 2017 survey that it is too easy to get a gun in this country. Following a Florida high school mass shooting earlier this year, though, Americans weren’t convinced stricter gun laws will reduce crime and didn’t trust the government to fairly enforce those laws.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Democrats think stricter gun control laws would help prevent incidents like the one in Pittsburgh. But just 28% of Republicans and 37% of unaffiliated adults agree.

Women believe more than men do that more gun control would help prevent mass shootings and are also more likely to blame the availability of guns. Middle-aged adults are the most skeptical age group.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans who think more gun control would help make a difference blame the availability of guns more than the shooter for mass killings. Among those who don’t believe more gun control would help, 93% say the shooter is more to blame.

Following the Florida school shooting in February, Americans rated more gun control on the same level with treatment of the mentally ill as the best way to stop incidents of this kind. But by a 54% to 33% margin, they also said the failure of government agencies to respond to numerous warning signs from the prospective killer in Florida was more to blame than a lack of adequate gun control.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in March calling for repeal of the Second Amendment in light of the current gun control debate, but most Americans oppose giving up their consitutional right to own a gun

Most Americans who have a gun in their home say it makes them feel safer.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on October 29-30, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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