ANOTHER month, another mass shooting in America. Since 2014 there have been 54 incidents in which a gunman has killed four or more people, leaving a total of 456 people dead, according to a tally of shootings kept by the Gun Violence Archive. The country has become so inured to the violence and its frequency that little political action is expected to follow. But after the deaths of 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14th, might this time be different? 

On February 21st some of the survivors and victims’ families of that latest massacre attended a “listening session” with Donald Trump, America’s president, at the White House. At the meeting Mr Trump suggested that America might begin arming some of its 3m teachers with handguns in an effort to protect their students. A day earlier he ordered his justice department to propose the regulation of bump stocks—attachments that enable legal semi-automatic firearms to shoot bullets at rates equal to those of illegal machine guns. 

A survey by YouGov, our pollster, asked a representative sample of Americans on February 17th about their attitudes towards a swath of gun-control measures. In general support for gun control is split across party lines, but there are a number of areas where all Americans find common ground. 

Most Americans would like restrictions on gun ownership for people with a history of mental illness. They would also like to have more background checks when guns are purchased. A five-day wait period between gun purchase and receipt also finds favour among most Americans. While a plurality of Americans favour a ban on semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle used in the attack last week, and limiting the size of magazine clips that can be used in weapons, the question divides Americans of different political stripes. This suggests that a resumption of the assault weapons ban, in force from 1994 to 2004, will be more difficult to pass, but restricting bump stocks may be possible.  

YouGov did not ask respondents for their views on arming teachers, but the suggestion of stationing armed guards in schools divided opinion among Republicans and Democrats. It is likely respondents would be far less supportive of arming teachers. In practice America is governed by a patchwork of laws about how people can buy and carry firearms. In general, a clear relationship exists between the looseness of gun laws and the number of gun deaths in any given state. America is home to an estimated 285m guns, distributed among 20% of its adult population. It is perhaps no coincidence that it also has a murder rate vastly higher than that of any other rich country.