Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Las Vegas shooting doesn't alter opinions on guns

Published:Monday | October 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Police officers stand at the scene of the mass shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, on October 1.

ATLANTA (AP):

The slaying of five dozen people in Las Vegas did little to change Americans' opinions about gun laws, a poll finds.

The nation is closely divided on whether restricting firearms would reduce such mass shootings or homicides, though a majority favours tighter laws, as they have for several years, according to the poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The massive divide on stricter limits remains firmly in place.

The survey was conducted from October 12-16, about two weeks after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired on a crowded musical festival taking place across the street from his hotel room, killing 58 and wounding more than 540 before killing himself.

In this latest survey, 61 per cent said the country's gun laws should be tougher, while 27 per cent would rather see them remain the same and 11 per cent want them to be less strict. That's similar to the results of an AP-GfK poll in July 2016.

Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, but just a third of Republicans, want to see gun laws made stricter.

Kenny Garcia, a 31-year-old resident of Stockton, California, and a former gun owner, said he's torn about whether tighter gun laws would lead to a reduction in mass shootings.

"That's the hard part," Garcia said. "How do you control something like that when you have no idea where it's coming from, whether you control the guns or not?"

Still, he's frustrated by easy availability of some devices such as the "bump stocks" used by the Las Vegas shooter to make his semi-automatic guns mimic the more rapid fire of automatic weapons.

"They give people access to these things, then they question after something horrible happens, but yet the answer is right there," he said. "It just doesn't make sense."

About half of Americans said they think making it more difficult to buy a gun would reduce the number of mass shootings in the country, and slightly under half said it would reduce the number of homicides.

About half felt it would reduce the number of accidental shootings, 4 in 10 that it would reduce the number of suicides and only about a third felt it would reduce gang violence.

Alea Leonard, a 21-year-old data analyst and full-time student, said she's torn about whether the nation's gun laws should be more strict, in part because different parts of the country have differentexperiences with crime.

"Here, I feel like everyone should be able to carry a .22 (calibre handgun) on them," said Leonard, who lives in Orange County, California. Her neighborhood, she said, has a high crime rate and in the five months since she moved there, a 14-year-old was shot in the back of the head.

She grew up in California, but spent some summers in Wyoming. She never before felt the need to have a gun but is now researching what it would take to carry a firearm.