Political foes are locking in their positions as Washington readies for a new fight over mass shootings, with Democrats stuck on blaming guns and Republicans going all-in on mental health.
In the latest survey about the debate, Rasmussen Reports today said that concerns about the mental health of shooters topped access to firearms in the blame game, 40% to 30%, with family matters and social media a distant third and fourth.
But the details of the survey show that the fight is coming down to just two issues for Democrats and Republicans as in other heated fights, such as the one over abortion.
When asked, “Which is more to blame for mass shootings by young men in America?,” 51% of Democrats said firearms. For Republicans, 56% said mental health.
Among self-described liberals, 69% blamed access to guns, while 52% of conservatives said mental health.
"President Joe Biden’s strongest supporters are most likely to blame firearm access for mass shootings. Among voters who strongly approve of Biden’s job performance as president, 59% say access to firearms is more to blame for such shootings. By contrast, among those who strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance, only six percent (6%) blame firearms access and 63% think mental health is more to blame," said Rasmussen.
And, the pollster added, "most voters remain unconvinced that more gun control laws can prevent such mass shootings."
The lack of a middle ground is dampening expectations for any major gun control legislation to emerge from Senate negotiations this week. In fact, two bite-sized proposals — one touching on mental health, the other, access to firearms — are the starting points as they look to tweak background checks and OK a “red flag” proposal, said Senate aides.
But even on the red flag issue, Rasmussen’s survey found conflict, as Democrats appear eager for any proposal focused on mass shootings and Republicans mildly reluctant to engage. For example, when asked if they support or oppose red flag laws, it was Democrats over Republicans, 66% to 41%, who said they strongly support them.