More Republicans Blame Mass Shootings on Video Games Than on Easy Gun Access
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There have already been more than 100 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. As some politicians, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), blame violent video games and other media depictions of gun violence for the epidemic of mass shootings, Morning Consult surveyed Americans to get a sense of how much they think violence in media is to blame, relative to other factors like gun access and mental health.
The survey found that huge majorities of Americans blame recent mass shootings on mental health (85%) and on easy access to guns (75%), with smaller majorities also blaming violence in video games (61%), movies (53%) and music lyrics (51%). Republicans, however, blamed video games (63%) more than they did easy access to guns (59%).
Entertainment’s Role in Mass Shootings Divided Along Political, Generational Lines
Americans blame mental health and easy access to guns significantly more than they do violence in media
- Violence in movies (53%) and music lyrics (51%) ranked lower on Americans’ list of things to blame, though both still represented narrow majorities.
- Among generations, baby boomers were most likely to blame violence in movies, video games and music lyrics compared with any other generation. The same share of baby boomers blamed violence in video games as the share who blamed easy access to guns (76% for both).
- A slightly larger share of Republicans (56%) blamed music lyrics than did the general public (51%). Republicans blamed easy access to guns 16 points less than adults overall, even as the party’s voters fuel a recent uptick in support for stricter gun laws.
A Plurality of Americans Say There Are Too Many Guns on TV and in Film
Some groups tire of gun violence in entertainment
- About 2 in 5 Americans (41%) said they think there is too much depiction of firearms in TV and films, while 36% said there is the right amount and just 4% said there is too little.
- Women (45%) are more likely than men (37%) to say there is too much depiction of firearms in TV and films.
- Democrats (45%) are most likely to say there is too much depiction of firearms in TV shows and films, compared with 39% of independents and 36% of Republicans. Meanwhile, 40% of gun owners said it’s about the right amount.
- Among generations, baby boomers (56%) were most likely to say there is too much depiction of firearms in TV shows and films, followed by Gen Xers (37%), millennials (32%) and Gen Z adults (25%).
- In a separate question, 63% of U.S. adults said they have seen a movie in the past three months that contained depictions of firearms being used.
Hollywood addresses gun violence
Hollywood is already trying to find ways to tighten gun safety behind the scenes after actor Alec Baldwin’s accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in October 2021. But when it comes to the depiction of guns on screen, the industry has been far slower to make changes. Many of the highest-grossing films and most-watched TV shows continue to heavily feature depictions of gun violence.
Some filmmakers and actors are making rules of their own. Director James Cameron revealed last year that he cut 10 minutes of gun violence from “Avatar: The Way of Water” because he didn’t want to “fetishize gun violence” anymore. A-list star Julianne Moore has been transparent about her choice to not act with guns on screen.
The April 12-15, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,201 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.