PUBLIC OPINION > The Aurora Shooter Should Get the Death Penalty
News 2012/07/31 21:00:00
The nation is still struggling to process the tragic events of July 20, when 12 people were shot dead in a Colorado theater during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." The suspected gunman, James Eagan Holmes, was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder. That's two for each victim: one standard charge, and one with "extreme indifference to the value of human life generally." We asked the public if the shooter should get the death penalty.
Looking back at Colorado's recent history with capital punishment, we find that only one person has been executed since 1977 -- Gary Lee Davis, for the rape and murder of one woman. There are also three people on death row in Colorado -- Nathan Dunlap, who murdered four people; Mario Owns, who murdered two people; and Robert Ray, who ordered the murder of two people. Given the company, it doesn't sound like it will be that difficult to get the shooter on death row. The public will be happy to hear it.
Before we get into the demographics proper, we wanted to compare the results of this poll to one we took in April. At that time, we asked if the death penalty was necessary. About 62% of the public felt it was. However, this time, relating the issue to a horrendous case that's still fresh in our minds, overall support for the death penalty was 14% higher.
Liberals Let Go
Age and politics seemed to have the most significant correlation with how people responded, but the political breakdown was more interesting when compared to the April poll. While conservative opinion remained about the same, liberals almost doubled their support from 33% to 59%. However, that could have something to do with the wording -- "Is the death penalty necessary?" versus "Should he get it?"
Teens Are Torn
Teens were the only major demographic that was still undecided. Only 51% of them think the shooter should get the death penalty. There were several arguments against it -- death is too painless, we shouldn't stoop to his level, some even pitched conspiracy theories and government cover-ups. The most popular response to any of those arguments was the cost of a life sentence.
If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about the death penalty. We'd love to hear from you!
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