CBS News Poll: Can mass shootings ever be prevented? If so, how?

While most Americans support stricter gun laws, they feel that politicians and big money are preventing them from being passed.

CBS News Poll: Can mass shootings ever be prevented? If so, how?

While most Americans support stricter gun laws, they feel that politicians and big money are preventing them from being passed. Americans believe that the gun debate in America is more influenced by politics than public safety. They are partially correct, according to polling.

Bipartisan support exists for people-related measures, such as background checks or a federal "red Flag" law. This could help to prevent mass shootings. There are also partisan differences about what to do with guns.

Democrats support more gun restrictions, including banning AR-15s and fewer people owning guns overall. They also support background checks as well as more mental health services. Republicans are opposed to AR-15 bans. They believe that more gun owners and more armed security will stop mass shootings. These measures, together with improved mental health screening, are most effective in stopping mass shootings.

Americans believe that mass shootings can be stopped if we do our best. Republicans are less likely to believe so, with four out of 10 Republicans saying that mass shootings are something we must accept in a free society.

Most people don't think Congress will make any major changes to gun policy within the next few months.

The chart below shows that background checks have similar support from all parties, with slightly less support for a federal flag law and Republicans having a very different view than Democrats and independents on banning AR-15s.

While the vast majority of Americans believe we can prevent mass shootings if it really was possible, Republicans are less likely to agree.

When we asked Americans why there are so many mass shootings here, the most common answer was that they believe the U.S. has more guns than other countries. Again, there are partisan divisions. Only about 25% of Republicans cite guns as the reason. The top reason for more Americans with mental health problems in the U.S., is the influence of violent movies or video games.

Democrats view gun-related policies, like more background checks or banning semi-automatic guns, as policies that "a lot" would help to prevent mass shootings. Republicans believe that better mental health care, more armed security and more religion would make people's lives more peaceful.

What amount of gun ownership is considered safer for America? That, too, breaks along partisan lines.

Seventy-two per cent of Democrats believe the U.S. would have a safer environment if there were fewer guns or no guns. Nearly half of Republicans (46%) believe the U.S. would have a safer environment if there were more guns.

One idea under discussion is to raise the minimum age for semi-automatic weapons. The majority of Americans believe that the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons like an AR-15 should not be below 21. This includes most Republicans.

Some people are now more supportive of stricter gun laws. This is a pattern that CBS News has seen before. Support for stricter gun laws has risen after mass shootings, but then has fallen over time.

Overall, 76% of Americans believe things are going bad. This number has risen and is now equal to its highs in the first months of the 2020 pandemic.

The CBS News/YouGov survey included a nationally representative sample consisting of 2,021 U.S. adults interviewed from June 1-3, 2022. Based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey (current population survey) and 2020 presidential vote, the sample was weighted according gender, race, education, and age. The margin of error is +-2.6%.

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