A New Poll Shows Most Americans Are Fearful Of A Mass Shooting

by Sarah Bregel
Erik McGregor/Getty

Six out of 10 people in America are afraid of a mass shooting and most believe gun laws would help

It’s been known for some time that most Americans support stricter gun control laws in order to combat high rates of gun violence. But according to a new poll, there’s even more evidence as to why — six in 10 people are worried about a mass shooting taking place in their community. What’s also clear is that most of those people, 58 percent, believe that the answer lies in creating stricter gun laws.

The poll, by ABC News/Washington Post, shows that gun control measures are overwhelmingly popular and that people believe it will increase their personal safety immensely if stricter laws are passed. The most popular point, background checks on all gun purchases, which would include private and gun show sales, is supported by 89 percent. The second most popular, “red flag” laws, would allow police to confiscate guns from individuals who are found by a judge to be a possible danger, is supported by 86 percent of respondents.

ABC News/Washington Post

Other measures are well-backed, too. The public also supports the banning of assault weapons by a 15-point margin, 56 to 41 percent. 52 percent support a mandatory buyback program where assault weapons would need to be turned in in exchange for payment. And six in 10 support banning high-capacity ammunition clips, as well.

When it comes to the debate around gun control, it doesn’t seem like much of a debate at all. Those numbers are huge and indicate clearly that people want gun control and soon, so that the constant stream of shootings in America can become a horrific thing of the past.

It makes sense that these measures are seeing such wide support. People are fed up, and facts are facts. We know that states with stricter gun laws have lower rates of mass shootings. We also know that in similar countries, with similar rates of mental illness, these shootings aren’t happening like they are here. The public is on board with change, but just because the greater public seems to agree, that doesn’t necessarily mean that change is coming.

As congress returns to session this week and those matters will be up for debate, politics doesn’t always make change easy, especially because there still isn’t much Republican support. Eighty-one percent of Democrats support an assault weapons ban, 55 percent of Independents, and just 33 percent of Republicans are for it. The good news is that at least mandatory background checks and red flag laws have tons of support from both sides. Eight in 10 Republicans and conservatives are in agreement there, which makes all the more baffling the fact that we’ve yet to make that happen.

While change is definitely slow-going when it comes to the gun debate in Washington, it seems like the rest of the country is more than ready.