As Democrats look to make gun violence a core issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds wide agreement that gun violence is a problem but bitter and stark division on whether new gun laws should trump the constitutional right to gun ownership.
The survey finds that 46 percent say new laws to reduce gun violence should be a bigger priority, while 47 percent say it's more important to protect the right to own firearms. This marks a shift away from gun laws since April 2013, when Democrats' push for increased background checks fell short in the aftermath of the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.; back then, a 52 percent majority said new laws should be a priority.
But while many have called for stricter gun laws in their wake, the Post-ABC poll finds far more point to problems treating people with mental health issues. By a more than 2-to-1 margin, more people say mass shootings reflect problems identifying and treating people with mental health problems rather than inadequate gun control laws (63 percent to 23 percent).
There are wide partisan divisions on this issue; 82 percent of Republicans say shootings reflect a failure to identify and treat people with mental health problems, compared with 65 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats.