Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Krista L. Minnotte

Abstract

ABSTRACT

The past decade witnessed a considerable increase in public outrage and debates regarding gun control laws, due in large part to several mass shootings across the nation. The purpose of this study is to explore how mass shootings influence attitudes toward gun control. More specifically, this study will examine the respondents' familiarity with the 2012 mass shooting in New Town, Connecticut, and then explore their opinions about whether that shooting reflects isolated acts of troubled individuals, or whether it is a reflection of greater issues, and in turn, how those opinions influence attitudes toward gun control.

Data for this research are from the December 2012 Gun Control Survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (N = 1,219), and logistic regression was used to test the hypotheses. The results indicate that, contrary to previous literature, familiarity with the Sandy Hook shooting had no impact on people's attitudes toward gun control. The results also show that respondents who believe that this shooting represents broader problems had significantly greater odds of favoring gun control. It is concluded that more research is needed in the area of gun control and school shootings to better understand the public's response, thereby helping to create policy recommendations that are politically feasible.

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