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A striking number from a new poll on guns

As Congress considers, again, the possibility of moving a package of gun control reforms, a number from a new CBS News/YouGov poll jumped out at me as evidence of why solving America’s gun violence problem is so hard.

It’s this: 44% of Republicans said that mass shootings are something we have to accept as part of a free society. (A majority of Republicans — 56% — said mass shootings are something we can prevent and stop if we really tried.)



That number is a striking departure from how the country as a whole views the issue. More than 7 in 10 Americans (72%) said that mass shootings could be prevented if we really tried, while just 28% said they were part of living in a free society.

Consider what those Republicans are saying: There is no policy — or cultural — solution to the problem of mass shootings. Instead, it is a necessary evil of living in a free society.

This is, of course, utter bunk.

Plenty of other free countries in the world do not have a mass shooting problem like we do in the United States.

What that (uninformed) view allows, however, is an attitude that suggests gun violence in the US can’t be changed and we all just have to accept these mass shootings as a byproduct of our freedom.

It takes all agency away from individuals and us, collectively, as a society.

(It’s also worth noting here that 46% of Republicans said in the CBS/YouGov survey that the US would be safer if all or more people had guns, while just 16% said the country would be safer if no one or fewer people had guns. The US already has more guns than people.)

Keep those numbers in mind as you read the coverage of the possibility of a deal between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate on gun legislation.

The numbers don’t mean that a deal is impossible. But what they do suggest is that there is a large chunk of Republicans who simply do not believe that the government can do anything to stop or slow mass shootings.

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