Poll: Americans Want Lots of Post-Newtown Legislation, but Maybe Not Gun Control

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 19 2012 1:29 PM

Poll: Americans Want Lots of Post-Newtown Legislation, but Maybe Not Gun Control

Rasmussen Reports helps us set our narrative:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Americans believe more action to treat mental health issues will do the most to prevent incidents like last Friday’s school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-seven percent (27%) think stricter gun control laws will do the most to prevent such shootings, while 15% put the emphasis on limits on violent movies and video games.
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Also in the poll: 86 percent want "action" on mental health, 49 percent want "limits" on media violence, and 47 percent want stricter gun control. This is just one poll, and the first since Newtown to suggest that new "gun control" is less popular than other possible responses. (CBS and ABC polls asked about specific gun laws, such as restrictions on magazine size, and they polled far better.) But Republicans take Rasmussen very seriously. When I talked to Republican senators and members of Congress yesterday, they cited "mental health" as an issue to look at long before they cited gun laws -- if they cited gun laws at all. The NRA is pledging to offer "meaningful contributions" to the debate at and after a Friday press conference.

This is a safe prediction: Gun rights advocates will work, carefully, to shift the conversation to mental health and media violence, and away from gun laws. Doing so would put Republicans in the position of demanding more mental health funding and stricter laws governing institutionalization, which... well, we'll see where that goes.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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