Poll: 52 Percent of Americans Say the Sandy Hook Shooting Is Being Exploited

Jan 30, 2013, 16:26 ET from Reason Foundation

Reason-Rupe poll finds 67 percent say the assault weapon ban would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy and 51 percent oppose an assault weapons ban

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As gun rights are debated in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the new Reason-Rupe poll finds 52 percent of Americans believe that elected officials are exploiting the tragedy for political gain and 41 percent feel politicians are acting responsibly. 

Reason-Rupe finds that 51 percent of Americans say people "should be allowed to own assault weapons," while 44 percent say people "should be prohibited from owning assault weapons."

Just 27 percent of Americans say the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 would've helped prevent the Newtown tragedy if it were still in place. Over two-thirds, 67 percent, say the ban would not have helped avoid the school shooting.

The public is split on what could have helped prevent the Newtown tragedy. When asked what might have helped prevent the shooting, 24 percent proposed better mental health treatment, 19 percent said stricter gun laws, 18 percent stressed better parenting and 17 percent suggested armed guards.

The poll also finds little consensus in defining assault weapons. Assault weapons were described as fully automatic machine guns in 29 percent of the responses. Twenty-seven percent of the answers defined assault weapons as any gun that fires rapidly, 23 percent focused on the size of the magazine or clip and 17 percent described them as any gun having the ability to fire multiple rounds.  

Reason-Rupe finds 52 percent approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing and 42 percent disapprove. Just 17 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and 74 percent disapprove.

The Reason-Rupe poll conducted live interviews with 1,000 adults on mobile (500) and landline (500) phones from January 17-21, 2013. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percent. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide survey.

The full Reason-Rupe poll is online here and here (.pdf).

SOURCE Reason Foundation