Most Americans support stricter gun control laws, but the country is divided on whether stricter laws or more guns will prevent mass shootings
Last week a married couple, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people at government offices in San Bernadino before themselves being killed by police. The day of the attacks the couple proclaimed their allegiance to the Islamic State, and the FBI believes that the two had long held radical Islamist views. The fact that they were able to legally acquire firearms, including semi-automatic rifles, and legally train with the weapons in the greater Los Angeles area has drawn attention to the ease with which terrorists in the United States can launch attacks compared to in other countries.
YouGov's latest research shows that most Americans (55%) support stricter gun control laws. Support is highest among Democrats (83%) and independents (49%), but even 26% of Republicans support stricter gun control laws. 22% of Republicans, and only 13% of Americans support less strict gun control laws. Nearly half of Republicans (47%) are happy with gun laws as they currently are.
Despite the minimal support for weakening gun control laws in general, Americans are divided when it comes to preventing mass shootings in particular. While 47% of Americans say that stricter gun control is more likely to prevent mass shootings, 41% say that allowing more people to carry guns would be better at preventing mass shootings. There is a dramatic partisan divide on this issue, with 75% of Democrats opting for stricter gun control and 69% of Republicans saying that allowing more people to carry guns is better. Independents narrowly lean towards more armed citizens (44%) than stricter laws (39%).
In October, after the shootings at the community college in Oregon, Americans were asked whether mass shootings are something that can be stopped or whether they are just a fact of life in America today. The percentage of Americans who believe that mass shootings are something that can be stopped has increased by 10%, from 48% to 58%. Just over a quarter of Americans (28%) believe that mass shootings are just a fact of life.