The year 2012 saw at least seven mass shootings. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School a national dialog began about how to prevent another numerous suggestions about how to avoid future tragedies. Some proposed ideas include increasing police presence, banning assault rifles, improving mental health screening and services, and arming teachers in schools.
The poll, conducted between January 30th and February 6th surveyed 485 (MOE +/-4.5) registered Pennsylvania voters about their opinions on various public safety proposals.
PA favored laws that would limit the capacity of magazines, institute background checks for all gun sales, and ban private citizens from owning armor-piercing ammunition.
Mercyhurst’s poll also noted differences in opinion based on the interviewees personal experience with guns by asking the same questions of individuals who live in a household where a gun is present and of those who do not.
For individuals living in a household where a gun is present, the suggestion that teachers be armed was rejected by 51%. Voters living in households without a gun present rejected the same proposal by 76%.
The same demographic was also surveyed about more traditional gun control measures. Those who support measures such as making guns more difficult to buy (37%), banning large capacity magazine (44%), and banning assault rifles (45%) were all in the minority. For individuals in households where a gun is not present, those measures were strongly supported, polling at 69%, 73%, and 80% respectively.
Other traditional gun control measures such as banning assault rifles were generally unsupported by those who live in a household where a gun is present. All demographics surveyed favored background checks when purchasing guns at gun shows as well as from private sellers.
While Pennsylvania voters thought that nearly all proposals would help to prevent mass shootings, some methods were viewed as most effective than others.
Large majorities favored improving mental health screenings (84%), requiring background checks for all gun purchases (81%), or increased police or security presence (73%).
76% of those surveyed also said that depictions of violence in popular culture, such as in video games, contribute “a lot” or “some” to mass shootings.
The poll was conducted via telephone over eight days on weekday evenings and weekend days. The data collected for the poll was prepared for analysis by the director and associate director of the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.