POLITICS
12/08/2015 02:20 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2015

Americans Are Much More Worried About Terrorism Than Gun Violence

A majority of the public supports stricter gun laws, but it's not at the top of their minds.
Officials put up police tape in front of the building at the Inland Regional Center were 14 people were killed on Dec. 2 in S
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Officials put up police tape in front of the building at the Inland Regional Center were 14 people were killed on Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California. A new poll finds Americans are more worried about terrorism than gun violence.

In the wake of a tragedy that highlighted the combined dangers of both gun violence and terrorism, Americans are far more concerned about the latter, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Sixty-four percent of Americans say that it's more important for the U.S. to focus on preventing terrorism than on preventing gun violence, while just 25 percent view gun violence as more important.

A 53 percent majority of respondents say issues related to terrorism will be "very important" when they vote next year, while just 36 percent say the same of gun issues.

This is despite the fact that while 29 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in the past decade, 132,349 have been killed by gun violence during the same period.

While members of both parties see terrorism as an important issue, the GOP is especially concerned. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans think preventing terrorism is more important than preventing gun violence, while Democrats are about evenly split.

The intersection between the two issues isn't lost on Americans: 78 percent say it's "not very difficult" or "not at all difficult" for terrorists to buy firearms in the country. And concerns about gun violence, if not as prominent, remain high.

Eighty-five percent of Americans say gun violence is a "somewhat serious" or "very serious" problem -- and most think the nation has made little headway in addressing it. Just 3 percent of respondents think the country has improved at preventing gun violence since the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

There's also majority support for gun control: 55 percent of those polled think gun laws should be more strict.

As previous surveys in the wake of shootings have shown, that's not enough to put such changes into action. Americans have been pessimistic about both the feasibility of passing new gun laws and the effects such laws would actually have, and a minority of voters says stricter guns laws will be "very important" in next year's presidential election.

Yet the latest poll also suggests that a wave of shootings may have increased the public's desire for action.

While 28 percent of respondents say mass shootings are "just a fact of life in America today," 58 percent believe shootings can be stopped -- up 10 points since October's survey in the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The percentage who say it's politically possible to pass stricter gun laws now stands at 46 percent, up 7 points since October.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 4-7 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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