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January 17, 2013

Poll: Americans angrier about school shooting than Sept. 11 attack

WASHINGTON — — Americans were angrier about last month’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut than they were about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

And more favor stricter gun laws now than did shortly after the shooting deaths of 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in April 2007.

Three-quarters of Americans said they reacted to the Connecticut massacre of with deep anger, higher than the 65 percent who said they felt that way in a poll from NORC at the University of Chicago after the 9/11 attacks. A majority, 54 percent, said they felt deeply ashamed that an event like Newtown could happen in the United States, well above the 40 percent who said they felt that way in the wake of the disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina and 35 percent who felt that way after the shootings at Virginia Tech.

The massacre prompted 3 in 10 to give serious thought to whether they could really be safe anywhere these days and 4 in 10 felt strongly that the deaths could have been prevented. Both figures are higher now than after the Virginia Tech shooting deaths.

About a third said that after Newtown, they felt there may be too many guns in this country. A similar share said they worried how the shooting would impact U.S. gun laws.

President Barack Obama unveiled Wednesday a wide-ranging package of steps for reducing gun violence, including proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as universal background checks for gun sales.

Many of the more restrictive proposals under consideration, such as the assault-weapons ban, would face stiff congressional opposition, particularly among Republicans.

By contrast, the general public appears receptive to stronger federal action following the Dec. 14 shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

Some 58 percent favor strengthening gun laws in the United States. Just 5 percent felt such laws should be loosened, while 35 percent said they should be left unchanged.

In comparison, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 47 percent wanted stricter gun laws, 38 percent thought they should remain as is and 11 percent wanted to see them loosened.

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