Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
As I posted over the weekend, "be it resolved that this nation begins the debate about its culture of gun violence." This is a broader discussion than gun control.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more than half of Americans see the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday as a sign of broader problems in society, not merely the isolated act of a troubled individual. The finding reverses a recent trend in which the public saw mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Tucson, Ariz., as aberrations that did not reflect underlying problems in American culture.
In a major reversal, a slim majority of Americans see the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary as a sign of broader problems in society, not merely an isolated act of a troubled individual, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
From the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech through this year’s massacre at a theater in Aurora, Colo., the viewpoint that these were discrete episodes had been steadily increasing. The switch parallels a wave of bipartisan reaction to the mass murder in Connecticut that some speculate may prove a “tipping point” in the politics of gun control.
After the Aurora killings in July, just 24 percent of Americans in a Pew Research Center poll said the shootings there reflected bigger issues in the country. That number has more than doubled to 52 percent, with 43 percent seeing Sandy Hook as an isolated incident — 67 percent had said so about Aurora.
The shift after Sandy Hook is broad-based, with most Democrats, Republicans and independents alike now saying the shooting is a sign of societal problems. This opinion has increased by double-digits across party lines since the 2011 shootings in Tucson, Ariz. that killed six people and injured former congresswoman Gabbie Giffords.
Greg Sargent digs into the poll results. Why Dems shouldn’t fear politics of gun control:
What’s really striking is that opposition to stricter gun control is largely driven by white men — blue collar white men in particular.
By contrast, college educated whites, white women, moderates, and minorities all show majority support for stricter gun laws. These are the emerging pillars of the Democratic coalition.
First, the toplines. The Post poll finds that Americans favor stricter gun laws by 54-43. The Post polling team tells me that whites oppose them by 48-50. But this is driven by opposition among white men (42-56) and non-college whites (44-53). By contrast, college educated whites favor stricter laws (54-43), as do white women (53-44).
The same pattern is evident on semi-automatic weapons. Overall, Americans favor a nationwide ban on them by 52-44. Whites narrowly oppose this (48-49), but here again this is driven by opposition among white men (40-58) and non-college whites (42-54). By contrast, white women favor a ban by 56-40 and college educated whites favor one by 58-40.
Public support for a nationwide ban on high capacity magazines is even stronger among the constituencies making up the emerging Democratic coalition. Americans overall support one by 59-48, as do big majorities of college educated whites and white women. Indeed, this is a case where even groups Dems are losing support a ban — non-college whites back one by 52-45, and white men back one by 54-45 — further underscoring that Dems are probably on safe ground with this route.
On all the above three questions, solid majorities of moderates support stricter laws, as do big majorities of non-whites. HuffPo reports that Senator Frank Lautenberg is set to introduce such a ban on high capacity magazines — which were used in recent mass shootings, including in Newtown — in the new Congress.
”Gun control is now overwhelmingly unpopular among the portions of the white electorate Obama is least likely to win anyway — and maintains solid majority support among the Americans most likely to actually vote for him,” Brownstein writes. “Gun control, in fact, remains a majority position with the same groups generally most enthusiastic about Obama’s recent embrace of gay marriage, free access to contraception in health insurance, and an administration version of the Dream Act for young illegal immigrants.”
Sargent concludes that "the groups Obama relied upon for reelection — the emerging coalition of the Democratic Party’s future — are all behind gun control."
UPDATE: A Pew Research Center survey released Monday found that the public is divided over the meaning of Friday's shooting in Newtown, Conn. Forty-seven percent of respondents said the shooting reflects broader societal problems in the U.S. and 44 percent said it was the act of a troubled individual.