Public divided over what Newtown signifies: Survey

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A Bushmaster .223 assault rifle (image above) was the
primary weapons used in shooting at an elementary
school in Newtown [gfx ©]
Washington: The shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday have drawn widespread public interest. A weekend survey finds that 57% of Americans say they followed news about the tragedy there very closely.

The survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the people and the Press,  between December 14-16 among 746 adults, finds the public is evenly divided over whether the Newtown shootings reflect broader problems in Americans society (47%) or are just the acts of troubled individuals (44%).

The percentage is higher than interest in the shootings at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater in July (49% very closely), though not as great as interest in the Columbine shootings in 1999 (68%).

By contrast, clear majorities said that both the Aurora shootings, as well as the shootings in Tucson, Ariz. in Jan. 2011, were just the isolated acts of troubled individuals; 67% said that after the Aurora shootings at a movie theater and 58% said that after the Tucson shootings, which killed six and left former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously wounded. Opinions today are comparable to reactions to the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech University in April 2007.

Most parents are talking with their children about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to a separate survey of more than 750 adults with children at home, conducted Dec. 14-17, using Google Consumer Surveys.

About half (53%) of all the parents who participated in the survey, including 71% of those with younger children, say they are restricting how much news coverage of the tragedy their children watch.
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