Politics

Poll: Most Americans Believe Inadequate Mental Health Care Causes Mass Shootings, Not Lack Of Gun Control

people browse table full of firearms at Houston gun show

Most Americans blame poor mental health care, rather than lax gun laws, for mass shootings, a new poll found.

The survey, conducted by Washington Post/ABC News, found that 63 percent of respondents said that mass shootings primarily happen because of inadequate mental health treatment, reports the Huffington Post. Only 23 percent attributed them to gun control issues.

The poll surveyed 1,001 adults from Oct. 15-18 and was conducted via interviews on cellphones and landlines.

The findings were fairly skewed by political party, with an overwhelming 82 percent of Republicans saying that poor treatment of mental health problems causes mass shootings, compared to only 46 percent of Democrats who said the same.

A near majority of 46 percent said that they supported new, stricter gun laws, while 47 percent instead advocated for the fundamental right to own a gun, placing the second amendment principle above gun ownership restrictions.

In the wake of the hundreds of mass shootings that have already occurred in 2015, Congress is working to pass mental health care reform laws, although legislators have struggled to come to a consensus over the best way to enact this, notes the Washington Post. Relatives of individuals with severe mental illnesses often push for more rights to intervene and mandate treatment Patients and legal advocacy groups emphasize prevention and early diagnosis, better access to care and more civil rights. Congress hopes to improve Medicaid funding of mental health treatment, fund more psychiatric beds in hospitals, and address privacy restrictions that prevent family members from accessing information regarding loved ones.

While federal law requires background checks for guns purchased from licensed dealers, most states do not subject firearms purchased at gun shows from private vendors to the same screening requirements under a law commonly known as the "gun show loophole," Governing reports.

Under the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, private sellers are defined as people who do not rely on gun sales for the majority of their income. Anyone who falls under this definition is not required to screen gun buyers, although some do.

Sources: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Governing
Photo Credit: M&R Glasgow/Flickr

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