The “pro-life” party, everybody!
Good news: most Americans are in agreement that mass shootings like the tragedies that befell Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas in recent weeks are often preventable and can largely be attributed to the accessibility of firearms. Bad news: Nearly half of all Republicans would rather continue living in a government-sanctioned death cult than accept any restrictions on their ability to own guns.
A new poll from CBS and YouGov shows that Republicans are increasingly just admitting that they are more comfortable with mass shootings than even the most reasonable forms of gun control. A whopping 44% of them said mass shootings are “something we have to accept as part of a free society.” By contrast, just 15% of Democrats and 27% of independents agree, while 72% of all those polled said the horrific events are “something we can prevent and stop if we really tried.”
Not that they have set foot in the middle ground for quite some time, but Republicans are increasingly moving away from the consensus on gun violence. The same poll found that 56% of Independent voters and more than three-fourths of Democrats acknowledge that the availability of guns is the reason that America experiences more mass shootings than any other country.
Republicans, meanwhile, pointed everywhere else. Nearly six in 10 GOP voters attributed it to a mental health crisis, one in three blamed it on racial divisions, half said violent media plays a role and 35% said it’ because America has more criminals — but just 26% could bring themselves to say it has anything to do with guns.
The finger-pointing and trying to highlight just about any other potential cause for mass shootings is more in line with the typical Republican playbook. But the fatalism of so many saying that if we’re going to be a free country, we simply have to accept the constant threat of a rogue gunman opening fire at any moment makes the prospect of doing anything about this feel remote.
It is worth noting that a majority of Republicans conceded that some gun control measures would have a positive impact on preventing mass shootings. Nearly eight in 10 Republicans said more background checks would have “a lot” or “some” effect in preventing future mass shootings. Sixty-six percent likewise believed red flag laws would make at least some difference, and 90% believe better mental health treatment would help.
But most Republicans are still caught up on ideas that don’t work. One of the highest-approval ratings of all proposals among Republicans was putting more armed police in schools, with 90% claiming it would make at least some difference in stopping mass shootings, despite the fact that it simply doesn’t. A 2021 study found that arming school officers did not stop mass shootings — as evidenced by the events of Uvalde and Parkland, Florida, where armed guards failed to stop the tragedies.
Another favorite idea of Republicans is allowing citizens to carry firearms in public, which received 83% approval. But this, too, has been proven to not make a difference. In an analysis of 316 mass shootings that have occurred since 2000, it was found that just 10 incidents were ended by an armed citizen shooting the killer. Four times as many were stopped by unarmed citizens. In fact, a citizen killing the mass shooter was the least common outcome in these cases.
While Republicans are still largely expressing delusional beliefs about the success of policies that posit we need more “good guys with guns,” it’s at least interesting to see their true beliefs shining through: mass shootings are more acceptable than gun control. Good luck negotiating with that.