Almost Half of Republicans Think ‘We Have to Accept’ Mass Shootings, Poll Shows

Nearly half of Republicans say mass gun violence is “unfortunately something we have to accept as part of free society.”
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 3, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 3, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Nearly half of Republicans think that mass shootings are “unfortunately something we have to accept as part of free society,” according to a new CBS News poll conducted by YouGov.

That fatalistic sentiment from 44 percent of Republicans—and the view that changes to gun laws threaten overall freedom—show why it’s so hard to pass significant new gun laws through Congress in spite of overwhelming public support for many measures. 

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But nearly three-quarters of Americans, including 56 percent of Republicans, say that mass shootings are “something we can prevent and stop if we really tried,” a sign that there’s broad-based appetite for gun law reform.

The poll shows that large majorities of Americans support legislation to address gun violence. 

More than four-fifths of Americans want to require background checks on all potential gun buyers. Almost three-quarters support passage of a federal “red flag” law that would allow law courts to order the temporary removal of guns from a person whom they deem a potential danger. And 62 percent of Americans support a nationwide ban on sales of AR-15 semi-automatic weapons, while 60 percent of Americans think that laws covering gun sales should be “more strict” overall. 

The poll, conducted in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting and released on Sunday, also found that while nearly half of Republicans think we simply have to live with mass gun violence, significant numbers of them still support more minor changes to gun laws to decrease the risk of mass shootings. Fully three-quarters of Republicans support background checks on all gun sales and more than half support a federal “red flag law.” Nearly one-third of Republicans want to ban AR-15s.

There’s been some progress in the Senate on negotiations around some form of red-flag legislation, though Republicans are insisting on supporting state-level red-flag laws rather than a national law. There’s a smaller chance that Senate Republicans will agree to some minor expansion of background checks as well. 

But deep opposition to any gun control measures from the activist core of the GOP base, as well as the Senate’s rural bias, has prevented significant gun-control legislation from passing Congress for more than two decades. And current negotiations are focused on smaller-ticket items.

Other findings from this poll also show how many Republicans think guns are the solution to, not the cause of, mass shootings. 

In total, nearly half of Republicans said the U.S. would be safer if either everyone had guns (21 percent) or more people had guns than do now (25 percent), while just 16 percent said that the U.S. would be safer if no one had guns or fewer people had guns than do now. And more than half of Republicans said that “allowing more law-abiding citizens to carry guns in public” would do “a lot” to prevent mass shootings in the U.S.

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