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33% Think Stricter Gun Laws Might Have Prevented Navy Yard Shooting

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Despite the horrific mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, support for more gun control has fallen to its lowest level in over a year. Most Americans don't think tougher gun control would have prevented this week's killings anyway. 

Just 33% of American Adults believe it’s at least somewhat likely that stricter gun control laws would have prevented the mass shooting in Washington, DC, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That includes 15% who say it is Very Likely stricter laws would have prevented the tragedy. Fifty-nine percent (59%) think it’s unlikely tougher gun laws would have prevented the shooting, including 26% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Forty-four percent (44%) believe the United States needs stricter gun control laws, but that’s the lowest support for increased gun control since July 2012, just after the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Shortly after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut last December, those supporting stricter gun control outnumbered opponents for the first time in surveys for several years. This support reached a high of 52% in late February but fell to 46% by August.

Now, 50% believe stricter gun laws are not needed, the highest level of opposition in over a year.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of adults believe stricter gun laws would decrease violent crime, a finding that has slowly declined since Newtown. Slightly more (36%) say they would have no impact on violent crime. Twenty-two percent (22%) believe tougher gun laws would actually increase violent crime.

Americans don’t think the latest mass shooting will spark any legislative action. Thirty-seven percent (37%) think it’s at least somewhat likely that Congress and the president will create tougher gun control laws, but 58% say it’s not likely to happen. These findings include 12% who think it’s Very Likely lawmakers will create new laws and 16% who say it’s Not At All Likely.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on September 17-18, 2013 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.

Earlier this year, most Americans said it is more important for the government to enforce existing gun control laws than to create new ones.

There continue to be sharp partisan differences in the gun control debate. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats think the country needs stricter gun control laws, while 79% of Republicans and 53% of adults not affiliated with either major political party disagree. Most Republicans and unaffiliateds don't think tougher anti-gun laws would not have prevented the Navy Yard shooting, while half of Democrats believe they would have.

Women are more supportive than men of tougher gun control laws.

Adults under 40 and senior citizens show more support for stricter gun laws than middle-aged Americans.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of black adults support stricter gun control laws, while 53% of whites and 50% of other minority Americans do not.

Nearly half (46%) of all Americans believe the country would be less safe than it is now if only government officials such as the police and military personnel were allowed to have guns.  Twenty-five percent (25%) think the nation would be safer, while 22% believe the level of safety would be about the same.

Only 23% would feel safer moving to a neighborhood where nobody was allowed to own a gun.

Support among voters for requiring a strict background check to buy a gun remains high, but 51% believe these checks will not reduce the level of violent crime in America.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of all Americans have been following news reports about the mass shooting in Washington at least somewhat closely. That includes 30% who have been following Very Closely.

Seventy-four percent (74%) believe Americans have a constitutional right to own a gun, but 44% of voters think it is at least somewhat likely that the government will try to confiscate all privately owned guns over the next generation or so.

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

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