According to a new poll from United Technologies/National Journal, a robust 71 percent of Americans agree that "there's something that can be done through public policies" to curb gun violence. Respondents, however, were far less unanimous on what, specifically, that "something" should be.
The poll found overwhelming support for universal background checks, expanded mental health services and better enforcement of existing gun laws. To a lesser degree, respondents also supported increasing the presence of armed guards at "schools, government buildings, and other public places."
But the level of agreement began to wane when other, more significant remedies — like an assaults weapon ban, or a limit on the size of ammunition clips — were proposed. Consistently, non-college educated white males, those in rural areas, and Republicans were less likely than other respondents to support gun safety measures. And, as National Journal found, even on those issues where there was widespread agreement, respondents disagreed on which remedies were more important than others.
The major hurdle standing before all legislative prospects is that different people's priorities don't align. Among those who responded that multiple proposals could help prevent mass shootings, a plurality—23 percent—said universal background checks would help the most. That was followed by expanded mental-health services at 21 percent and posting more armed guards at 16 percent.
But Republicans rated universal background checks as just the fourth-most-helpful measure to prevent mass shootings, behind mental health, tougher enforcement of existing gun laws, and posting more guards. Rural voters also comparatively discounted the merits of background checks, saying expanding mental-health services and posting more guards would both do more to prevent shootings.