Washington (CNN) - Americans feel sadness, anger and shock in the wake of the tragic events in Tucson, Arizona, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates there's plenty of blame to go around over the shootings, but two-thirds of the public is pessimistic that the government or society can prevent something like this from happening again.
View full results (pdf)
A total of 19 people were shot January 8 at the "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Tucson supermarket. Authorities believe Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was the target of the mass shooting that left six dead and another 13 wounded. Giffords was upgraded from critical to serious condition Sunday, eight days after being shot in the head at the public event. A 22-year-old suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody.
Ninety-three percent of people questioned in the poll say that they personally felt sadness in response to the shootings, with just over seven in ten saying they personally felt anger, and two thirds saying they felt shock. Only 32 percent said fear was an emotion they experienced in response to the shootings.
The survey indicates that while a majority of Americans say that current gun laws deserve a great deal or a moderate amount of blame for the shootings in Arizona, seven in ten say that the incident does not make them more likely to support stricter gun control laws.
"That may not be surprising given the widespread pessimism that government can do anything to prevent an incident like this from happening again," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Two-thirds say that shootings like the one in Arizona will happen again regardless of any action taken by the government or society."
According to the survey, just under half also blame the harsh rhetoric and violent metaphors used by politicians and commentators as a contributing factor behind the shootings, and 54 percent believe that harsh political rhetoric may lead to other shootings in the future.
"But while a large majority predict that tragedy in Tucson will lead to more civility in political debates, only one in ten think that change will be permanent," adds Holland. "Seven in ten say politicians will tone it down in the short run but the change won't last very long, and 18 percent think there will be no change at all."
Seven out of ten blame the resources available to deal with people who may be mentally ill as a contributing factor to the shooting.
According to the poll, the public doesn't blame Sarah Palin's website for the incident in Arizona. Only a third of all Americans say that the website – which had an image that looked like the crosshairs of a gun marking Gifford's congressional district – deserves a great deal or a moderate amount of blame. The former Alaska governor put the website up last year during the debate over health care reform, to highlight 20 congressional districts won by Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, where Democratic representatives were voting in favor of the legislation.
The survey also indicates that Americans are divided on Loughner's punishment if he is found guilty in this case, with a small majority favoring the death penalty and 43 percent opting for life in prison with no chance of parole.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 14-16, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
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