A CNN poll released this week shows striking evidence of a shift in American attitudes toward mass shootings: Nearly two-thirds of adults now believe that mass shootings can be prevented, the first time since Columbine that a majority of Americans have felt that way.
The survey suggests the Parkland, Fla., shooting is changing the public attitudes about gun violence in a way that other recent killings haven’t.
As recently as the summer of 2015, when nine black parishioners were shot to death by a white supremacist in a Charleston church, less than 40 percent of Americans said that government or society could do anything to stop the shootings.
Four months ago, when 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a shooting in Las Vegas, a plurality of respondents told pollsters that government and society were essentially powerless to stop these incidents.
Today, however, 64 percent of Americans say that “government and society can take action that will be effective in preventing shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida from happening again.” Just 32 percent say shootings like Parkland “will happen again regardless of what action is taken by government and society.”
The question has referenced different shootings each time it’s been asked, so some of the variation in responses to it likely reflects the differences between those shootings: venue, victims, shooters and other individual circumstances.
But the numbers nonetheless reflect the contours of a political routine with which we’ve all become familiar: a national tragedy, followed by outrage, prayer and calls for action. Ultimately, however, federal firearm policy remains unchanged, an outcome driven in large part by congressional Republicans’ vehement opposition to substantive regulations on gun ownership. In the past, some red-state Democratic senators, such as North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III, have also been instrumental in voting …read more