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.