By Bob Smietana
Nearly half of Americans blame failings in the mental health system—rather than the nation’s gun law—for recent mass shootings, according to a new Gallup survey.
Forty-eight percent said the mental health system deserved “a great deal of blame” for the shootings. Easy access to guns (40 percent), drugs (37 percent), violent entertainment (32 percent) and extremist views on the Internet (29 percent) were also blamed.
The poll of 1,023 Americans was taken after the recent shooting at the Navy shipyard in Washington, D.C.
Democrats (57 percent) were more likely to blame guns than Republicans (22 percent). People from both parties had similar responses on mental illness.
After the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., a Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans wanted stricter guns laws. That dropped to 40 percent in last week’s poll.
Gallup researchers say the poll highlights national concerns about mental illness. “…. the current results support longstanding evidence from Gallup polling that Americans believe more can be done on the mental health side,” the Gallup report said.
Churches can be one solution, according to a report from Lifeway Research. A Lifeway Research poll released last week found that more than half of Americans surveyed (51 percent) say someone close to them has experienced mental illness.
Fifty-four percent say churches should do more to prevent suicide. That number jumps to 64 percent among evangelical, fundamentalist or born-again Christians.
Americans who never attend church services are the least likely to agree that churches would welcome those with mental illness. Those who attend weekly see churches as welcoming.