The Conversation

Poll: Mental Health Failures Blamed for Most Gun Violence, not Access to Guns

In a rebuke to the gun-obsessed main stream media, Gallup released a new poll showing that most Americans blame a failing mental health system for mass shootings in the United States. What is notable is that there is a drop of 6% among adults who blame "easy access to weapons."

Almost half (48%) say the "failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are are a danger to others" is a "great deal" to blame for mass shootings. Forty percent say it is "easy access to guns." This is a drop from 2011, when the survey was taken after the shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

Other notable findings in the survey predictably occur among party lines.  Democrats are more likely to blame 'access to guns' (57%) than Republicans (22%) while Independents register in the middle of the two at 38%. But Democrats do not let the mental issue off the hook with 51% blaming problems in the system for mass shootings.  This is slightly higher (but probably not significantly different) than Republicans (49%) who point the finger at the mental health system. 

And it gets worse for the gun control movement. The survey shows a 10% drop from December 2012 levels of adults who want stricter laws governing firearm access. The December 2012 survey was conducted following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. At the time, 58% wanted stricter laws regulating firearms purchases. Now, that number has fallen to 49%.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 17-18, 2013, with a random sample of 1,023 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia


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