Americans Agree Mental Health Issues Cause Mass Shootings, Not Loose Gun Laws

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A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows most Americans think mass shootings are a result of lapses in mental health therapy, not gun control laws.

By more than a two-to-one margin, participants agreed poor treatments of mental illnesses are to blame for mass gun violence. The Monday poll showed only 23 percent of the people surveyed blamed recent gun violence on loose gun laws, while 63 percent of the polled people said mental illness was at fault.

By a slim margin — 47 percent to 46 percent — Americans agreed protecting gun rights is a higher priority than enacting new gun control laws.

In 2013, when pushes for new gun laws were on the rise after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, a majority of Americans thought new, more stringent gun laws were a priority, according to The Washington Post.

Gun control policy has become a core issue in the 2016 presidential campaign as the number of mass shootings in America continues to increase. As of Oct. 1, the number of mass shootings reached 294 — mass shootings defined as four or more people injured or killed by gunfire. Since Oct. 1, there has only been 273 days in 2015.

There is a wide partisan divide on the issue, according to the recent poll. Eighty-two percent of Republicans say shootings reflect a failure in treating mental illnesses, while only 46 percent of Democrats agree. (RELATED: Two Polls That Smash Through The Case For More Gun Control)

The Washington Post-ABC poll was conducted nationally from Oct. 15-18 with a random sample of 1,001 Americans. The results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.