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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What America Thinks About Gun Control

The debate over gun control isn’t a new one, but it’s also not one that’s likely to end anytime soon. What’s the best approach? We decided to find out what America thinks.

First of all, 74% of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the average citizen to own a gun.

More than half of likely voters continue to oppose stricter gun control laws. But most also still think the United States needs stricter enforcement of existing gun laws. Overall, there’s been little change in support for tougher gun laws over the years except when there’s a high-profile shooting like the one at Virginia Tech in 2007 or at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

In surveys from early 2006 through late 2012, at least half of voters opposed stricter gun control. That opposition fell into the low 40s after the Newtown shooting, for example, but rose above 50% by early last year. Voters opposed to more gun control, though, have all along been much more supportive of enforcing the laws that are already on the books.

Why the resistance to more gun control? For one thing, 62% of Americans don’t trust the government to enforce gun laws fairly. Also, very few believe it is possible in a free society like ours to make schools and other public places completely safe from mass shootings. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans, in fact, would feel safer if their child's school had an armed security guard, and just 25% disagree.

Most voters also continue to think more action to identify and treat the mentally ill will do more than increased gun control to reduce the number of mass shootings.

And so the debate continues. For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.