Study shows most Americans blame government mistakes, not guns, for Florida shooting

Study shows most Americans blame government mistakes, not guns, for Florida shooting
Gun enthusiasts say it's important to use proper terminology when describing firearms.(Getty Images/Artfully79)

A new study shatters the notion that a vast majority of Americans believe stricter gun control laws could have stopped the mass shooting in Florida.

Most Americans blame the shooting on failures by the local, state and federal governments, according to a Rasmussen Reports study. The study was done in response to the Valentine’s Day shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Fifty-four percent of Americans surveyed believe the shooting could have been avoided if government agencies responded to reports of warning signs from the killer. Additionally, 33 percent blamed a lack of adequate gun control and 11 percent cited other factors, according to the survey.

On the issue of gun control, 41 percent of those surveyed said stricter gun control laws would be the most effective approach to reduce mass murders. Just as many — 40 percent — said treating mental health issues would be the most effective approach.

What about Republicans vs. Democrats?

Results were also broken down along party lines. The survey showed Republicans were more likely than Democrats to blame the government.

Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 55 percent of adults not affiliated with either major political party believe that government failure is more likely to have led to the shooting than not enough gun control.

In contrast, just 36 percent of Democrats said the government is culpable. Fifty percent of Democrats said insufficient gun control is the primary problem.

What did parents say?

Interestingly, 61 percent of parents with school-age children believe the government is more responsible for the shooting than guns. Just 23 percent blamed a lack of adequate gun control.

Of those surveyed, 90 percent said they have been watching news reports about the Florida shooting “somewhat closely,” while 53 percent reported watching the reports “very closely.”

Other findings:

  • Thirty-two percent believe FBI Director Christopher Wray should resign or be fired because the agency failed to pursue tips prior to the shooter opening fire at the school.
  • Middle-aged voters are the most likely to view the government as more to blame.
  • That is also true of married adults and those with children in the home, compared to those who are not married and have no children living with them.
  • Only 26 percent said the federal government can be trusted to do the right thing at least most of the time.

Rasmussen Reports conducted the survey of 1,000 American adults on Feb. 25 through 26. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points, along with a 95 percent level of confidence, the firm stated. The study was completed via national telephone and online surveys.