Majority of PA voters oppose arming teachers, support gun restrictions

Pennsylvania voters say no to guns in the classroom and generally support President Obama's gun control measures.

That's according to a new Mercyhurst University poll released today.

The poll was released the same day Vice President Biden hosted a roundtable discussion in Philadelphia on gun violence, a topic expected to be a focal point of the president's first State of the Union address of his new term on Tuesday.

Proposals to allow teachers trained in the use of firearms to carry guns in classrooms was rejected by a majority – 56 percent – of Pennsylvanians.

Most of those who oppose arming teachers do not own a gun. Those in households with a gun were more likely (51 percent) to support arming teachers.

The Mercyhurst poll found 58 percent saying banning military-style assault weapons would help prevent mass shootings, while 55 percent say that banning large capacity ammunition magazines would help.

The findings are echo the results of a recent Quinnipiac University poll which found majorities of Pennsylvanians support background checks,  bans on military style-weapons and large capacity magazines.

Most Pennsylvanians feel that proposals currently being debated would help prevent mass shootings in public places, but some proposals are viewed as more effective than others, the poll found. 

Most say banning large capacity of ammunition magazines or military-style rifles would help prevent mass shootings, while large majorities say that improving mental health screening, requiring background checks for all people buying a gun and increasing the presence of armed police officers or security guards would be more effective deterrents.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) said he would be introducing a bill soon to provide more armed guards in Pennsylvania schools.

Scarnati wants to increase Safe Schools grants from $500,000 to $10 million to allow schools to hire and train armed guards, purchase security-related devices and institute violence prevention curricula and plans. 

A large majority (76 percent) of those polled also point to depictions of violence in popular culture and video games as contributors to mass shootings.

Mercyhurst polled 485 registered voters across the state between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6. The poll has a margin of error rate of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.


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