Majority of Americans live in fear of mass shootings and support regulations to prevent them

Support for a ban on assault weapons grows after summer of deadly mass shootings

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 09 September 2019 14:54
Donald Trump calls for mental institutions in response to gun control question

The majority of Americans live in fear a mass shooting will happen in their community and an even larger share of the country support stricter gun laws to prevent them from happening, a new poll has found.

After a summer of deadly shootings nationwide, 56 per cent of Americans support banning the sale of assault weapons, compared to 41 per cent who oppose the move, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday.

The vast majority of respondents said they support measures known as “red flag laws”, with 86 per cent saying they would approve of policies that allow police officers to remove weapons from individuals and homes when ordered by a judge.

When it comes to the public’s confidence in Washington and its ability to reduce mass shootings, 51 per cent of the country said they trust Democrats on Capitol Hill to make the necessary reforms, compared to 36 per cent who said they believe Donald Trump is best placed to handle gun laws.

The poll reflects an overall heightened interest in the US for gun control reforms since 2015, when just 45 per cent of those surveyed supported an assault weapons ban.

Support for an assault ban has waned somewhat since last year shortly after the mass shooting at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, when 62 per cent of the country supported the measure.

Meanwhile, six out of 10 respondents said they worried about a mass shooting happening in their own communities. The poll also showed strong support for increased mental health resources and monitoring capabilities.

The poll arrives in the midst of the 2020 presidential campaign, where gun control has been a major focus of the Democratic primaries.

Eight of the leading Democratic candidates appeared in an advertisement last week in support of a gun control advocacy organisation led by Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman who was shot in a 2011 shooting that left six people dead and 13 others injured.

The advertisement, titled “Our Kids Deserve to be Safe at School,” shows candidates including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren calling for common sense measures to keep children safe from mass shootings in their schools.

“Gun violence is literally life and death,” Ms Warren says.

“It’s deep,” Mr Biden says. “It’s serious. And it’s wrong, what’s going on.”

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In a statement to CNN, which aired the advertisement on Thursday, Ms Giffords said: “We can continue with the corrupt leadership of Donald Trump, who has taken millions from the NRA while opposing gun safety policies, or we can forge a new path and elect a gun-safety president who's willing to stand up to the gun lobby and protect our kids and communities from gun violence.”

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