Bad news for reformists in wake of the killings in Aurora, Colorado: Most Americans see the massacre as an isolated incident, not emblematic of larger societal problems. In a new Pew Research Center poll, 67 percent of respondents say shootings like the one allegedly carried out by James Holmes are "just the isolated acts of troubled individuals." As Pew notes, that's a significantly higher percentage of individuals who feel that way than in the aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the 2011 shootings in Tucson in which former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head.
That means if you're in the business of cracking down on guns, video games, adult services websites or prescription drug use, you may have hard time convincing Americans this month's assault should lead to new laws. By the same token, it's also a little discouraging for gun control opponents who would like to use the incident to push for greater gun rights for citizens to "protect themselves." But overall, The Washington Post's Jon Cohen notes that it's bad news first and foremost for gun control proponents. "How people conceptualize these shootings matters. Among those who see the Colorado shooting as part of larger problem, about twice as many prioritize gun control over protecting gun ownership," he writes. "By contrast, a slim majority of those who think Aurora was an isolated incident — the more common reaction — say gun rights are more important." As shown by the chart on the right, it appears that even heart-wrenching shocks like the one felt in Aurora aren't putting a dent in longterm views on gun control.