Americans are most likely to say that an increased police presence at schools, increased government spending on mental health screening and treatment, and decreased depiction of gun violence in entertainment venues would be effective in preventing mass shootings at schools. Americans rate the potential effectiveness of a ban on assault and semi-automatic guns as fourth on a list of six actions Gallup asked about.
The tragic shooting deaths of 20 school children and six adults at Newtown, Conn., on Friday has left elected officials, leaders, and average citizens highly focused on what could be done to prevent such shootings in the future.
A question included in Gallup Daily tracking on Dec. 18 listed six possible preventative actions. Respondents were asked to rate the effectiveness of each in terms of “preventing mass shootings at schools, like the one that occurred in Connecticut last week.”
Much of the discussion since Friday’s devastating mass shooting has focused on the potential efficacy of new laws on gun sales and ownership. Forty-two percent of Americans say that banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons would be “very effective” in preventing mass shootings. Another 21% say such actions would be “somewhat effective,” and 36% say they would be “not effective.”
Americans rated the effectiveness of three potential actions higher than the semi-automatic weapon ban. But it is clear that Americans are not overwhelmingly convinced that any of the actions would be highly effective in preventing future school shootings.
- Slightly more than half (53%) of Americans say that increased police presence would be very effective. This action is at the top of the effectiveness list.
- The only other action that a majority of Americans view as very effective is government spending on mental health screening and treatment — 50% say this would be very effective.
- Forty-seven percent say decreasing media and video game gun violence would be very effective.
Americans were least likely to say that arming at least one school official at every school and the news media refusing to publicize the name of the shooter would be very effective strategies.