Majority see Sandy Hook killings as “societal problem,” not just isolated act of one person

As you might imagine, lots of polls are coming out following the Sandy Hook school killings. A solid majority of Americans are against high-capacity ammunition clips, and a slim majority favor stricter gun laws.

While support for stricter gun laws has not changed significantly, one significant development is that Americans are increasingly seeing mass shootings like this as a societal issue. As I mentioned yesterday, over here in Europe, we see the same TV shows, the same movies and have the same video games yet we don’t see the same number of mass shootings. They happen, but not with anywhere near the same regularity as in the US.

Something else is going on.  It maybe the availability of guns. It may also be something in the American character, or culture, that’s more violent.

The center-right is blaming the problem on Hollywood and video games, but that doesn’t seem to work when you view this issue globally. It’s more than just TV and video games.

ABC News:

Mass Shootings around the world

Mass Shootings around the world

The public by 52-43 percent sees the atrocity in Connecticut as indicating “broader problems in American society” rather than just the isolated act of a troubled individual. Many fewer saw the shootings last July in Aurora, Colorado, or last year in Tucson, Arizona, as signs of a broader societal problem, 24 and 31 percent, respectively, in polls by the Pew Research Center.

Views were more similar to today’s after the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, when the public divided, 46-47 percent in a Pew poll, on whether broader societal problems were at play. But the Connecticut shootings mark the first of these incidents that’s been seen by more than half the public as indicating a broader problem.

Notably, political and ideological differences are muted in this assessment: Half or more of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike see a broader societal problem (51, 52 and 57 percent, respectively). It’s also about half both among liberals and conservatives.

Meanwhile over at Fox, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes can’t seem to agree on the issue of gun control. Murdoch is somewhat surprisingly in favor of gun control, while Ailes is holding firm on his preference of guns over people.


Gun via Shutterstock

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • What is the rate in Antarctica?

  • Try out this: “tragedy” In the wake of Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’ has been used to make genre distinctions. Apples are not oranges, but both are fruit. Shifting the topic from mass killing and gun control is not the same as being killed in an auto accident. Stay on topic and avoid sophistry if you are serious.

  • colleen2

    “Or maybe we can extrapolate the argument to take away everyone’s pet
    dog, and give them a rattlesnake instead… because statistically,
    rattlesnakes kill far less people than dogs do.”

    so well done…..thank you

  • colleen2

    “Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached”

  • Hue-Man

    TV networks are responding to the demand of their American viewers for more violence, more blood and guts, more perversity. I’ve quit watching two TV shows despite liking the actors – Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU – because they’ve become Degradation 101 instruction shows. I tried to watch Walking Dead but the combination of gore and boredom kept that off my must-watch list. Even the local nightly news violence has become routine – if it bleeds, it leads. (I don’t believe Europe is getting this kind of avalanche of violence, although I will defer to those with current knowledge since my last visit is coming up on a decade ago.)

    I don’t see how the networks can be forced to reduce the violence while at the same time the FCC babysits the networks on bad language, in routine use by most people over the age of 10.

  • In addition to our violence-worshiping American culture, I think another factor right now has been the years-long drumbeat of End Days fixation in the wingnuttisphere. Figures on national TV such as Glenn Beck and others have been telling them they need to hoard gold and freeze dried food, stock up on guns and ammunition — because any day now… well, pick your End Days scenario: Jeebus returning and Rapture. Economic collapse. Race riots. United Nations / FEMA black helicopters and blue-helmet troops. An American president supposedly a socialist election-stealing non-citizen. Chem-trails. Deliberate release of targeted viruses.

    Remember, some of them actually believe that Obama is the antichrist.

    Add to this the crazy “End of the Maya Calendar” BS, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t see a few more crazed rampages over the coming days and weeks.

  • That’s way the hell fewer than we have each year, it seems. And the Australian response was to put really, really strict controls on guns of all kinds, and to outlaw pretty near most semi-automatics.

  • Naja pallida

    Nobody ever tried to compare the level of tragedy, but that doesn’t make it any less of a farcical comparison. Maybe if there were hundreds of millions of people all firing guns at the same time every morning for a half hour starting around 7am, and every evening starting around 5pm … and guns were a more or less necessary part of getting around and keeping a job in the US. And cars were designed with the express purpose of killing people…

    Or maybe we can extrapolate the argument to take away everyone’s pet dog, and give them a rattlesnake instead… because statistically, rattlesnakes kill far less people than dogs do.

  • Naja pallida

    Pretty sure I mentioned that one, or are you just randomly posting links to proof that the US has a huge problem compared to EU with regards to mass shootings? That’s 10 shootings in a decade. We’ve had more than that since Obama took office.

  • Yeah, it almost exactly the same number of people that have been killed in cars. I have yet had anyone explain why being shot to death is more tragic than being killed in an auto accident, or for that matter being run over deliberately.

    So much for that theory, Australia has had a problem also.

  • Naja pallida

    Don’t hear about many mass shootings in Switzerland, despite almost universal gun ownership… well, I guess there was one back in 2001. It is amazing what happens when you put strict regulations on them, and make sure everyone who has one gets proper training.

  • Naja pallida

    The latest compiled CDC statistics from 2009 put the country-wide firearm related fatalities at about 80 per day, (homicides, suicides and accidents), and the levels have been relatively constant for several years. So that means since it has been four days since the school shooting, about another 300 people, give or take, have been shot and killed in this country (and as a side note, about another 1,000 shot, but not killed), without making national headlines. Just the cost of doing business.

  • Sweetie

    “over here in Europe, we see the same TV shows, the same movies and have the same video games yet we don’t see the same number of mass shootings.”

    I’m not sure that generalization applies to all of Europe, and it’s not the one I am familiar with. The one I am familiar with says Europe is more permissible regarding nudity and sexuality but less tolerant of violence in entertainment.

    Here is just one example:

    “‘The rise of ultimate fighting, which is becoming a staple of cable television, is a tribute to the large amounts of money to be made — and to the nation’s bizarre double standard about violence and sex.If there is a so-called wardrobe malfunction, and a usually covered body part is briefly shown, the government reacts swiftly and punitively. If a young man bashes another young man’s face into a bloody pulp, well, that’s entertainment.’

    Some years ago, a European postdoc told me that he couldn’t understand why American movies were much more censored for sex than European movies, but nevertheless had much more violence. I told him that sex was much more natural in Europe, since without it there wouldn’t be any Europeans. Americans, on the other hand, come from immigration…”

    Is it really true, particularly for the Nordic countries, that American levels of violence in entertainment are considered normal? I doubt it.

  • Sweetie

    And, finally… we have a supreme court justice who thinks murdering innocent people is OK:

    “‘This court has never held,’ Scalia wrote, ‘that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is actually innocent.'”

  • Sweetie

    What’s even better than his joke is the warm and cheerful approving laughter and applause that it deserves.

  • Sweetie

    Anyone want to make a video that shows him joking about killing kids with drones and his tears in Newtown?

    Oh, and you can put in Bill Clinton’s laugh then crying bit as well, and end it with Rush’s mimicry of Michael J. Fox.

  • nicho

    Strict gun laws put a significant dent in mass shootings. There are numerous examples from other countries. All the babbling from the gun lobby is just that — babbling. Will strict gun laws remove violence entirely? No, of course not — any more than locking your front door means that no one can break into your house — but we most of us lock out front doors when we go out. If everyone’s door was left open, break-ins would be epidemic.

    Australia enacted strict gun laws in the mid-’90s and stopped mass shootings. Gun deaths in countries with strict gun laws number in double digits. In the US gun-related deaths are in five digits.

    The problem is guns. Period.

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