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Survey: Safety OK, mental health services lacking

Venice Gondolier Sun - 11/1/2017

About half of Florida’s residents think the state’s gun laws are “about right,” while ?40 percent think they’re not strict enough and 8 percent think they’re too harsh, according to the 2017 Sunshine State Survey.

The results are ?from a sample of 1,215 Floridians ages 18 and up conducted from ?July 24-Aug. 14, prior to the Las Vegas massacre and more than a year after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando — where 57 percent of respondents said the laws are “about right.”

Men (54 percent) were more likely than women (44 percent), and whites and Hispanics (53 percent) more likely than African-Americans (31 percent), to say the laws are appropriate.

African-Americans (57 percent), people not in the work force (50 percent), seniors (48 percent of people 80 and older) and women (47 percent) were more likely to say gun laws should be stricter.

Regionally, the areas that most favored stronger gun laws were Palm Beach (56 percent) and Miami/Fort Lauderdale (52 percent).

In 2015, 42 percent of respondents said the state’s gun laws were “about right.” The question wasn’t included in the survey last year.

Slightly more than half the respondents said the state does a good or excellent job of ensuring the safety of adults in public places (45 percent “good” and 6 percent “excellent”) and children at school (43 percent good, 11 percent excellent).

The responses about adults have been consistent over the four years the question has been asked, with a high percentage of people who rate adult safety “fair” (38 percent) or “poor” (8 percent).

The survey notes that people who live in high-density areas — African-Americans (67 percent), unemployed people (57 percent) and millennials (50 percent) — are more likely to give the state lower marks.

The percentage of people saying the state does well at protecting students is down 5 percentage points from last year while the number of “fair” and “poor” responses was up slightly.

Responses higher than the average came from people not in the workforce (64 percent), 55- to 64-year-olds (57 percent), men and people in middle-income households (each 56 percent) and the college educated (55 percent).

Palm Beach (49 percent), Miami/Fort Lauderdale (45 percent) and Orlando (44 percent) all gave lower ratings, reflecting the fact that more of their schools are in densely populated inner-city neighborhoods, the survey says.

There’s greater consensus on the state’s level of assistance to the mentally disabled, and it’s not favorable: 65 percent rate it as “fair” (31 percent) or “poor” (34 percent).

Among those who said they favor stricter gun laws, 43 percent said the state’s effort is poor.

College graduates (39 percent), and people 55 to 64 (39 percent) and 65 to 79 (37 percent) also said the state is doing a poor job. Younger Floridians, people with a child under 18 living at home, part-time workers and people with a high school education or less had a more favorable opinion.

The survey notes that respondents might have included people with mental illnesses under the term “mentally disabled.”

The annual Sunshine State Survey is a joint effort of the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences and The Nielsen Company LLC.



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