Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Americans Think Better Mental Health Services, Better Parenting and Armed Guards are More Likely Than Gun Control to Stop a School Shooting


A year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed, just 16 percent of Americans believe stricter gun control laws would have been most effective in preventing the tragedy. While this does not necessarily mean they do not support stricter gun rules, it demonstrates that their priorities lie elsewhere.

When asked to select the most important factor that may have prevented the Newtown shooting, nearly a third of respondents, 27 percent, told the Reason-Rupe poll that better mental health treatment is the most important factor in preventing the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

Twenty-two percent say better parenting is most critical, and 20 percent say having armed school officials or armed guards on site would have been the most likely way to prevent the tragedy.

The fourth most preferred approach was stricter gun control laws, selected by 16 percent of respondents in the Reason-Rupe poll.

Reducing the violence in media and video games was cited by eight percent of Americans as the best way to prevent the school shooting.

Republicans place the greatest importance on better mental health treatment (26 percent), armed guards on site (25 percent), and better parenting (22 percent). Only one in 10 Republicans say that stricter gun control is the most important factor that could have been used to prevent the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Similarly, independents say better mental health care is the most important factor that could have prevented the Newtown tragedy (31 percent), followed by better parenting (23 percent), and armed guards at school (18 percent). Just 12 percent of independents say stricter gun control is most important when considering what measures may have prevented the Newtown shooting.

Democrats say tightened gun control is the most important factor (24 percent), followed by enhanced mental health care (23 percent) and better parenting and armed officials on site (tied at 19 percent).

Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.

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  1. You got poll-juice in my hair!

    1. That’s from “There’s Something about Mary”, am I right?

      1. Mental health is the avenue to gun confiscation..

        Politicians and Media push gun control in a dangerous and dishonest manner..…..tally-ill/

  2. Allowing licensed concealed carry in schools wasn’t even asked?

    1. Concealed carry in schools would be the cheapest, and most effective method at preventing mass shooting at school.

      Too bad the left won’t let go of the Kultur war long enough to allow it.

      1. CC on campus would generate revenue for the state, as you’d have some teachers and public paying the state license fee so that they could carry and defend their students & coworkers.

        Needless to say, any solution that would be effective, generate (voluntary) revenue for the state, and reinforce the natural right to self defense is DOA. Much better to attack natural rights, create potential killing grounds everywhere, and then point fingers in the most pious, dunderheaded way imaginable.

        1. if the state wants you to have rights, it will give you those rights.

          and in keeping with the O-care theme: just because you like those rights doesn’t mean you can keep them.

        2. Plus, armed guards = jobs!

    2. Well, if you go with armed guards rather than concealed carry, you have to add staff, which means increasing union membership.

      Which, I have to conclude, is the true purpose of the public schools.

  3. 27% of respondents is closer to “a quarter of respondents” than “nearly a third of respondents”. Tighten it up Emily. This is precisely what Karl Kraus criticized journalists for.

    1. Hey, you stole my comment.

      31% I might call “nearly a third,” but 27% feels way too low to ’round up’ like that.

    2. Emily doesn’t need to tighten up.

      1. Hubba hubba!

        1. This is why there are no female libertarians.

          1. Also why VP hates “us.”

    3. Just say 27%.

  4. How about starting with just improved mental services, then we can add other elements as necessary.

    1. That seems singularly unlikely to work even if you’re on board with greatly expanding what is a priori considered dangerous behavior.

    2. on paper, this sounds good. In practice, I have no idea how it works well. Involuntary committment is already a by-gone relic and even people like Laughner and the Aurora shooter were known to be unstable but nothing could be done with them because they had done nothing wrong.

      1. Didn’t the who episode begin with the involuntary commitment process of Lanza? Not sure how “improving” would have helped unless the guys in the white van got there before he started prying open that gun vault.

  5. The absurdity of this “more mental healthcare” rallying cry is that Lanza was a rich kid who had access to the best therapists money could buy. The problem isn’t a lack of access to psychologists and psychiatry; the problem is that severe anxiety such as his is a human problem that can’t be medicalized away by throwing money at it.

    You can repair a broken arm, a blocked artery, or a tumor; you can’t repair a personality that lives in constant fear of its environment or the chronic frustration, bitterness, and hopelessness that results from that, at least not by simplistic psychiatric means. If you’ve ever seen what anxiety-ridden adolescents go through, you would understand that the idea that we’re going to prevent more Lanzas (or Chos, or Holmeses, or…) by throwing money at public-health services is ridiculous. These are lifelong problems that result from cycles of despair, frustration, and bitterness–sticking an extra counselor in a school isn’t going to do anything substantial in preventing another massacre.

    1. the problem is that severe anxiety such as his is a human problem that can’t be medicalized away by throwing money at it.

      As a chronic sufferer of anxiety, I volunteer for this radical treatment. I understand that being treated with money may not cure my illness, but if it someday contributes to a cure, it will have been worth it to me.

      1. There are surely some reasonoids who would throw money at you were you to get up on the stage and take off all of your clothes very slowly.

        Or very quickly, depending.

      2. It does cure AIDS.

    2. Yeah, the mental health care thing is a bit of a canard. While some of the people who’ve perpetrate may have been mentally ill, an overwhelming majority of people who are mentally ill in any way do not go on shooting sprees, or even pose a threat to anyone else. In fact, most of the behavior involved in these shootings demonstrates rational thinking and planning, not kookoo bananas crazy time.

      Plus, what does “better mental health care” even mean in this context? Are we tip-toeing around involuntary commitment? Because that’s not a door I want to open with Progressives, frankly. Next thing you know flicking off someone who cuts you off on the highway will land you in the looney bin.

      I think to the extent that there is a problem, and I think that’s very, very debatable, we’re talking about situations that are so complex and unusual as to make generalization extremely difficult. Adam Lanza might have benefited from better parenting, but I don’t recall even a whisper of the Cho kid having any issues at home.

      It seems that in a lot of these cases the shooters are for whatever reasons somewhat isolated. They seem to be people who for one reason or another have difficulty forming close relationships, which makes it difficult or impossible for people to notice if they’re acting “funny”. Frankly, I think mitigation of the leaden variety is a more effective response.

  6. This strikes me as just another bullshit poll designed to fit the narrative. Here’s my take on it.

    Some people tend to blame the individual. Most likely they are mentally deranged. Its not the gun’s fault. Better (more involved) parents might have been able to see this coming and/or have secured the guns better. There’s a good chance that armed guards in the school could have prevented this but that may not be a valid solution (liberty, funding, etc).

  7. Has there been an uptick in school shootings that I wasn’t aware of, that we need to be DOOOOOING SOOOOOMETHING about?

  8. The thing about armed guards is, what are they going to be doing most of the time when there is no killing going on? That’s right, harassing kids for petty mischief.

  9. “Better mental health services” seems to include both “identify crazies and lack them up” as well as “more money for counseling and support” and also “limit regulations that restrict psychiatric drugs.” Difficult to know what people are reading into it.

  10. The local Social Security office for me is in Olympia, WA. There are probably 15-20 employees and maybe 40 clients in the office at any one time.

    It has a full-time guard on duty during office hours.

    I live walking distance to an elementary school. It has maybe 40 teachers and staff and I guess about 700 children.

    It not only has no guard but is advertised on a sign in front as a “gun-free zone.”

    Go figure.

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