Poll: Americans Split on Guns, But 89% Believe Better Mental Health Screenings and Treatment Key to Violence Prevention

74% believe tougher sentences on criminals required

A customer sights a shotgun at a gun shop
A customer sights a shotgun at a gun shop / Getty Images
• December 13, 2017 5:00 am


Americans remain split on guns and gun control but find some areas of common ground, a poll released on Monday shows.

The CBS News Poll found 49 percent favor a "nationwide ban on assault weapons" while 48 percent oppose it. It found 51 percent favor a ban on bump-fire stocks and similar devices while 46 percent oppose a ban. It also found 57 percent of respondents favored making laws governing gun sales stricter while 40 percent favored keeping them the same or making them less strict.

The results underscore how divided Americans remain when it comes to guns. Partisan opinions remain in stark opposition on most questions, according to the poll. It found that while 83 percent of Democrats favor stricter gun-control laws, 57 percent of Republicans thought gun laws should be kept as they are.

While 60 percent pointed to stricter gun control as an answer for preventing gun violence, 51 percent pointed toward more civilian gun-carry. While 52 percent said they weren't very concerned about a mass shooting where they live, 48 percent said they were at least somewhat concerned. Those polled were split on how serious the level of gun violence in America is with 32 percent calling it a crisis, 37 percent calling it very serious but not a crisis, 24 percent calling it somewhat serious, and 7 percent calling it not much of a problem.

While CBS did not ask specifically about the national gun-carry reciprocity bill, which would allow more Americans to legally carry firearms across state lines and passed the House of Representatives last week, it did ask whether allowing more civilians to carry guns in public would help prevent gun violence. Americans were split on that question as well: Fifty-one percent say it would help some or a lot and 47 percent say it wouldn't do much or might do nothing at all.

On a few issues, however, a large majority of those polled did agree. Ninety-two percent of respondents told the publication they'd favor requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers with 7 percent opposed. Eighty-nine percent said they believed better mental health screenings and treatment would help a lot or, at least, some in preventing gun violence. Seventy-four percent said they believed tougher sentences for criminals would do the same. Seventy-two percent told the publication they thought more police and armed guards in places like churches and schools would help prevent gun violence.

The telephone poll of 1,120 adults was conducted between December 3 and December 5, 2017.

Published under: Guns, Violence