A majority of Americans say that a ban on assault weapons would significantly reduce mass shootings, but beneath those findings lurks a huge gender gap, one that rivals the divide between Democrats and Republicans on the issue, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.
Women are far more likely than men to say that mass shootings could be reduced if there were a ban on assault weapons, such as the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school last December. Almost three-quarters of women say an assault-weapons ban would be effective, compared with 44 percent of men. A majority of men, 54 percent, say such a ban wouldn't have a serious impact on reducing mass shootings.
Like the nation as a whole, opinion on the matter among Republicans is also riven by a gender gap. Republicans in general do not think an assault-weapons ban would be an effective way to cut down on mass shootings; only 42 percent say it would reduce them. But that skepticism is quartered largely among Republican men. While less than a third (29 percent) of GOP men and GOP-leaning men say an assault ban would be effective, a majority of Republican women and Republican-leaning women (57 percent) say a ban would reduce mass shootings.
The gender gap is less pronounced among Democrats, who overwhelmingly (72 percent) say an assault ban would reduce shootings. But it is still there: Democratic women and women who lean toward the Democrats are more likely than their male counterparts to say that an assault-weapons ban would reduce shootings, by 79 percent to 66 percent.