Americans are more likely to believe that improving mental health screening and support is the best way to prevent mass shootings, compared to enacting stricter gun laws, putting a greater emphasis on God and morality in school and society, having stricter security at public gatherings, or allowing more private citizens to carry guns, a new survey released today finds.
Three-in-ten (30 percent) Americans say that better mental health screening and support is the best way to prevent mass shootings from occurring in the United States, an eight-point increase from a survey conducted in August 2012 (22 percent). The first part of the January Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, finds increased support for improving mental health services among both Democrats (24 percent in August vs. 31 percent today) and Republicans (17 percent in August vs. 27 percent today).
Over the past six months, which have included shootings in a Connecticut elementary school, a Colorado movie theater and a Wisconsin Sikh temple, the new survey also finds that support for stricter gun laws has increased by eight percentage points, from 52 percent in August 2012 to 60 percent today.
“Few issues are as polarizing as gun control,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “Two-thirds of Republicans oppose stricter gun control laws, while 85 percent of Democrats support it. Yet, over the last few months, we are seeing greater agreement among Republicans and Democrats on the importance of better mental health screening and support as a way to reduce mass shootings.”
The new survey confirms earlier PRRI research demonstrating the complexity of how Americans identify with the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” and the influence these identities have on particular issues.
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