Home On the Agenda Gun Control: Who’s Responsible?

Gun Control: Who’s Responsible?

March 8, 2018

Government officials are elected to represent the public, on good faith that they will listen to their constituents. Yet, if so many Americans believe more should be done, why hasn’t Congress done anything? Will the public take action?

It’s the same plot we have sadly become familiar with as Americans. People’s lives are taken too soon, communities are left trying to put back together a picture that has missing pieces and another group of children’s innocence has been replaced with a nightmare that may haunt them their whole lives. The school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida last month is undeniably devastating.

Media, politicians and anyone who has access to a social platform all have opinions about what’s to blame – guns, mental illness, violence on TV. While we all can agree this tragedy shouldn’t have taken place, how to prevent it from occurring again is murkier. The typical questions roll out one after one: Is it time to remove all the guns? Do we need to provide better mental health services? Are automatic weapons really covered under the 2nd amendment? Should it be harder to get guns? Should more people carry guns?

We are inundated with many different answers to these, and similar questions, from conservatives and liberals, yet there has been surprisingly little action. A graphic published by New York Times outlines the few preventative steps that Congress has taken over the five years since Sandy Hook in 2013. ( The lack of action is frustrating and as there are more and more instances of innocent people losing their lives, we are left questioning if anything will ever change.

But, we live in a democracy, a government that is supposed to represent the people. If Congress has done little, maybe it is because there is so much disagreement among Americans or maybe Americans just don’t want change. Maybe the frustration is wrongly placed on Congress and maybe our representatives just have a better understanding of what Americans want.

According to two surveys conducted last year
(one by Pew Research Center and the other by Gallup)
and a national poll conducted February 2018
(by Quinnipiac University) here is what Americans believe:

Most Americans think owning a gun is an individual right.

  • 71 percent of Americans do not think that there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns1.

Most believe it’s too easy to buy a gun.

  • 96 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring background checks for all gun purchases2.
  • 88 percent are in favor of preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns3.
  • 83 percent support a federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases4.
  • 66 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws5.

A little over half of Americans with a gun in their household support a ban on assault weapons.

  • 67 of Americans support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons.6
  • Among people who have a gun in their household, 53 percent support this ban.7

Most people do not think that arming teachers is the best way to reduce gun violence in schools.

  • 44 percent are in favor of allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns.8
  • 20 percent say arming teachers with guns would do more to reduce gun violence. 34 percent said using metal detectors and 40 percent said stricter gun laws would do more to reduce violence.9

Congress should be doing something.

  • 75 percent of Americans think Congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence.10

Government officials are elected to represent the public, on good faith that they will listen to their constituents. Yet, if so many Americans believe more should be done, why hasn’t Congress done anything? Why are conversations continuously revolving around what politicians want, what the National Rifle Association wants, or what Democrats or Republicans or Independents want and not what Americans want?

There are some solutions Americans don’t agree on, but many of us share similar ideas on progress. Congress, regardless of where you stand on this issue, please listen to Americans. We want you to do more. And Americans, please hold government officials accountable. Take action and demand that your voices are heard: speak out when you are ignored and vote for those who will listen and represent you.



Senior Research Associate