UPDATED: An admittedly unscientific poll on the CNN website Wednesday asking whether the United States needs stricter gun control laws has drawn a lopsided “no” reaction from visitors to the site, with the latest figures showing 68 percent opposition to the question.
Only 32 percent support the notion that American gun laws need to be tightened. This may be partly due to the fact that California, where last Friday’s spree killing rampage occurred, already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.
This poll comes just five days after the attack at Isla Vista in which three of the six victims were shot to death. The poll seems to overlook the fact that the other three victims died from knife wounds, a fact not lost on gun rights activists who have been complaining that the overwhelming media attention has been on guns, rather than the alleged killer.
The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday that suspect Elliot Rodger was able to legally purchase three handguns, despite a history of mental health or emotional issues since his childhood. The newspaper reported that Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, who noted that “a diagnoses of mental illness doesn’t affect a person’s right to own a gun in California.”
Rodger left a 140-page autobiographical “manifesto” that shows he had great expectations from life that did not materialize, leaving him depressed, envious and hateful. He discussed how he would murder people, particularly women who had not flocked to him. It is evident from this document that his fatal eruption had been in the planning stages for more than a year.
The killing spree has allowed gun control groups to launch efforts aimed at new gun restrictions, though they are having a hard time selling the notion because the attack occurred in California. That state has adopted virtually every item on the traditional gun control agenda, including so-called “Universal background checks,” waiting periods on handgun purchases, and a roster of “approved” handguns, plus a 10-round magazine limit.
None of these measures prevented the attack. Now there is some attention being steered toward improved mental health treatment, and this morning on Seattle’s KVI, drive-time host John Carlson hinted strongly that it may be time to institutionalize people who display dangerous behavior or relay dangerous intentions to family members.