Jared Loughner's Tucson Shooting an "Isolated Act," but Newtown May Not Be, Survey Says

According to the court of public opinion, last week's shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school isn't viewed as an "isolated act," unlike the shootings carried out by Jared Loughner and James Holmes.

Although the public's just about split on the issue, a Pew Research Center survey shows more people think the Newtown shooting "reflect[s] broader problems in society."

See also:
-Since Jared Loughner's Tucson Massacre, Six U.S. Shootings Have Been Deadlier

About 47 percent of the people polled thought the Newtown shooting reflects a problem in society, whereas 58 percent said Loughner -- who opened fire outside a Tucson Safeway almost two years ago, killing six people, and injuring 13, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- is more of an "isolated act" involving a troubled individual.

As we noted after the Newtown shooting last week, since Loughner's shooting rampage in Tucson, there have now been six mass shootings in the United States that were more deadly than Loughner's.

As for Holmes -- who's accused of killing 12 people, and injuring 59, when he opened fire inside a movie theater about 30 minutes into the film, The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 -- 67 percent of people think he falls into the madman category.

The other shooting compared in this survey was the one carried out in 2007 on the campus of Virginia Tech University. Forty-seven percent called it an isolated act, while 46 percent said it reflects broader problems in society.

Considering the amount of gun-control talk there's been in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, these public-opinion results seem plausible.

Pew also polled people on different comparisons between the shootings. Check out some of the highlights in the bullet points below:

  • "Democrats, by 54% to 39%, say the shootings reflect broader societal problems. Republicans are divided, with 49% saying such incidents are the acts of troubled individuals, while 45% say they reflect broader problems."

  • "People who have followed news about the shootings very closely are more likely than those who have not to say that they represent broader problems in society (51% vs. 40%)."

  • "News interest in the Newtown shooting is higher than for other recent gun tragedies, including shootings in Aurora, Colo. (41% very closely), Tucson, Ariz. (49% very closely), and Virginia Tech (45% very closely)."

  • "College graduates (54%) are more likely than those with no more than a high school education (42%) to say that the massacre reflects broader societal problems."

All of the information released by Pew can be found here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley