A poll released on the fifth anniversary of the Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — which left 20 children dead — has found many American gun owners believe such acts of violence are just part of having a “free society.”
The CBS News/YouGov poll, titled ‘American attitudes toward gun violence,’ found that 51 per cent of gun owners think “mass shootings are something we have to accept as part of a free society,” 49 per cent thought the deadly incidents can be prevented “if we really tried.”
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Gun owners in the poll also voiced support for owning firearms. Fifty-three per cent said guns are “part of what makes America great,” 61 per cent said guns help make the country “free.” They also felt that having a gun protects them from two major threats — criminals and terrorists.
Americans who don’t own guns were slightly less keen on their benefits. Thirty-three per cent said mass shootings are part of a free society, while 67 per cent said they can be prevented. About 55 per cent also described guns as “dangerous,” while 38 per cent said they are “scary.”
The poll also found that emotions over the gun control debate are at a high. Many gun owners (71 per cent) are accusing those advocating for stricter laws of trying to give the government control over people.
Non-gun owners, on the other hand, are more likely (62 per cent) to see firearms regulations as a way to promote safety.
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One thing both sides agreed on is the threat of gun violence in schools. Among parents, 55 per cent of gun owners were worried about a possible incident, while 53 per cent of non-gun owners were concerned.
This latest poll comes about two months after the Las Vegas mass shooting, which left 58 people dead. In the days after that shooting, a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that most Americans still hold the same opinions about gun control as they did before the deadly incident.
About 61 per cent said the country’s gun laws should be tougher, while 27 per cent would rather see them remain the same, and 11 per cent want them to be less strict. That’s similar to the results of an Associated Press poll in July 2016.
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Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump defended current gun ownership rules in the country in November, following another mass shooting at a church in Texas. The shooter in that incident was shot by another man who happened to be carrying a gun.
At press conference days later, Trump said tighter gun control would have led to “hundreds” more deaths.
This CBS News poll was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,073 U.S. adults. The interviews were completed online between Dec. 5-11. The margin of error is about 2.7 per cent.
— With files from The Associated Press