In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week, two new polls reveal the extent of that gap. A new Washington Post-ABC poll asked Americans what could and couldn’t have prevented the attack. One from Quinnipiac University explored a broader universe of questions related to gun issues in general.
For example: There is a sharp partisan divide in the United States on whether more guns makes us safer.
Most Americans think that an increase in the number of guns in the United States would make America less safe. That includes a majority of independents and 9 in 10 Democrats.
This is a central argument for gun rights proponents, echoing the line that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. But over time, Quinnipiac polling has found that the argument for more armed citizens has grown less effective. Two years ago, about as many people said more guns would make the United States less safe as said it would make the country more safe. Now, there’s a 26-percentage-point gulf on the question.
So The Post and ABC asked whether perhaps there should be more armed individuals on campus: specifically, teachers. A majority of Americans said that having armed teachers on campus wouldn’t have prevented the massacre in Parkland, perhaps because those teachers would probably have only encountered alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz after the incident began. (It wouldn’t have been a deterrent, clearly. There was an armed guard at the Parkland high school, incidentally, who never encountered the shooter during the rampage.)
Republicans thought it could have helped. Two-thirds of Republicans, though, disagreed with the idea that stricter gun-control laws could have prevented the Parkland shooting, though most Americans thought tougher laws could have.
The argument generally used by gun-control opponents in situations like this is that those looking to murder aren’t going to adhere to legal mandates about who can and can’t own a firearm.
Republicans do think, though, that having metal detectors at schools to find weapons on students would reduce gun violence, allowing prospective shooters to be screened upon entering the building. It was the most popular solution of three offered by Quinnipiac, edging out arming teachers. A plurality of independents and most Democrats see stricter gun laws as a better solution.
Quinnipiac asked another interesting question, too, which sheds some light on views of mass shootings in the United States. Asked which was a bigger problem, mass killings by Americans or mass killings by foreigners, well over two-thirds of respondents said Americans — but nearly half of Republicans said that foreigners posed a bigger threat.
There is a sharp partisan divide in the United States on who poses more of a risk to Americans, citizens or foreigners. But again, that’s not really a surprise either.