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No Consensus on the Best Way to Prevent Mass Shootings

In the wake of another mass shooting, we took a look at what actions Americans think could prevent such shootings from happening in the future.

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Americans differ sharply in what they think is the best way to avert mass shootings. According to a 2013 PRRI survey, 30 percent of Americans believe better mental health screening and support is the most important thing that could be done to prevent mass shootings from occurring in the U.S., while one-quarter (25 percent) say stricter gun control laws and enforcement is the best approach. Twenty percent believe putting more emphasis on God and morality in school and society is the most effective way to prevent mass shootings. Roughly one in ten Americans say that stricter security at public gatherings (11 percent) or allowing more private citizens to carry guns (9 percent) are most likely to prevent mass gun violence.

There are substantial partisan divisions on this question. Democrats (36 percent) are more than twice as likely as Republicans (14 percent) to say stricter gun control laws and enforcement is the most important thing that could be done to prevent mass shootings from occurring in the U.S. In contrast, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say an emphasis on God and morality is the best hope for preventing mass shootings (28 percent vs. 14 percent, respectively). Republicans are also much more likely than Democrats to say that allowing more private citizens to carry firearms is most likely to prevent mass shootings (14 percent vs. three percent, respectively).

Roughly equal numbers of Republicans (27 percent) and Democrats (31 percent) say that better mental health screening and support would most effectively prevent mass gun violence.