WASHINGTON -- More than half of Americans believe there is a link between violent video games and gun violence, but only a third favor more government research on the subject, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
According to the new poll, 37 percent of Americans said they'd be in favor of government-funded studies on whether there's a link between video games and gun violence, while 46 percent were opposed. A 53 percent majority also said that the current system of voluntary ratings for video games was adequate, while 31 percent said the government should mandate stronger warnings.
Fifty-one percent of Democrats, but only 32 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents, said they would favor funding for studies on video-game violence. Democrats were also the most divided over whether the current voluntary labeling system is adequate, with 43 percent saying it is and 40 percent saying that the government should mandate stronger warnings. A majority of both Republicans and independents said that the current system provides adequate warning.
Those results come in spite of the fact that many respondents say there's at least some link between violence in movies and video games, and gun violence. Twenty-five percent of respondents said it contributes a lot to gun violence and 28 percent said it contributes some, while another 25 percent said it contributes a little and 14 percent said not at all.
The survey results follow calls in recent weeks from President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders for this type of study.
In January, Vice President Joe Biden called for more research into violent entertainment following the Sandy Hook school shooting, and this week, the background checks bill released by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) addressed the issue by proposing a National Commission on Mass Violence.
Although lawmakers are eager to explore possible links between violence and mass media, few Americans believe that video games are key to reducing gun violence. Asked to choose from a list of potential policies to reduce gun violence in the U.S., only 5 percent of those surveyed chose "reducing access to violent video games." That option fell behind "stricter gun laws" (30 percent), "increased access to mental health treatment" (28 percent), "armed guards in schools" (16 percent), and "something else" (9 percent).
Asked to choose from the same list, 21 percent chose reducing access to violent games as least effective at reducing gun violence, the same percentage that chose armed guards in schools. And although "stricter gun laws" was chosen by the largest percentage of respondents as the most effective option, it was also listed by the most respondents (36 percent) as the least effective. Only 10 percent said that increasing access to mental health treatment would be the least effective option for reducing gun violence.
Not surprisingly, Democrats and Republicans in the survey were split over the effectiveness of gun laws in particular. Fifty percent of Democrats, but only 15 percent of Republicans, said that stricter gun laws would be the most effective policy to reduce gun violence. Sixty-one percent of Republicans and only 16 percent of Democrats listed it as the least effective.
The wide partisan difference in opinions on whether stricter gun laws would help reduce gun violence underscores how polarizing the issue is among Americans. The United States Senate will debate a number of bills -- many of which contain language about video games and mass media -- next week aimed at reducing gun violence.
The poll was conducted April 9-10 among 1,000 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. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.