Republicans and Democrats support charging parents whose kids use guns from parents for crime

December 09, 2021, 2:50 PM UTC

More than half of parents of children under the age of 18 worry about a school shooting happening in their own community, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. And, like Americans overall, most parents of children under the age of 18 believe parents should be held responsible if their child commits a crime with a gun they got from their parents. 

Three-quarters of Americans had heard about the shooting in a Michigan high school last week, which resulted in the deaths of four students and the charging of Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old student, with four counts of murder as an adult. In addition, Crumbley’s parents, who had bought a gun for their son, were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, charges which most Americans agree are appropriate.

Many Americans are concerned about possible school shootings in their communities. More than one in 10 Americans say there already has been a school shooting in their community, and that experience appears to make people more concerned about it happening again. While 52% of Americans overall — and 56% of parents — say they are worried that a school shooting could happen in their community, among those who say their community has had a school shooting, that percentage rises to 71%.

While there is a similar level of concern about possible local school shootings in each of the four major regions of the country — with at least half of people in each worried — there is a distinct difference among Americans who live in cities and suburbs and those who live in more rural areas. More than half of people in urban and suburban communities worry about school shootings, while less than half of people in rural areas are worried. 

Republicans and Democrats agree on charges for parents whose kids used guns they got from their parents in a crime. That’s about where agreement across party lines ends. Republicans have long been more supportive of gun rights than Democrats have been, and that difference persists in this poll. 

Most Democrats (60%) say protecting people from gun violence is more important than the right of people to own guns; just 7% of Republicans agree while 58% say both are equally important and 34% rank higher the right of gun ownership. And while 80% of Democrats say they want to make gun laws more strict, just 23% of Republicans agree.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between December 4 and December 7, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty