Poll: Americans fear 'lone wolf' attacks

White House: It's challenging to disrupt lone wolf attacks
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    White House: It's challenging to disrupt lone wolf attacks


White House: It's challenging to disrupt lone wolf attacks 01:01

Washington (CNN)Amid growing national security concerns following high profile terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, a new poll shows that Americans doubt the government's ability to stop "lone wolf' terror attacks, but are more confident about defense against large-scale, foreign plots. And the country is divided over how best to respond to the threat posed by those individual attackers.

According to the new Washington Post/ABC News survey, just 22% of those polled said they had a "good amount" of confidence in the U.S. government's ability to stop "lone wolf" attacks. Meanwhile, 77% of respondents said they had only a "fair amount" or no confidence that individual attackers can be stopped. There is little disagreement along party lines.
That stands in contrast to 43% who said they had a "good amount" of confidence about the government stopping "a large scale, organized attack by a foreign group." And per the Post/ABC poll, Democrats are more confident in security measures against these kinds of attacks than are Republicans.
Opinions are split on how best to defend against the "lone wolf" attacks that Americans aren't confident the government can prevent. With much of the political rhetoric centering on advancing or opposing gun control legislation as a solution, 47% said the better reaction is "encouraging more people to carry guns legally," while 42% favored "enacting stricter gun-control laws," as reported by the Post/ABC poll.
    And regarding a specific national ban on assault weapons, 53% of Americans oppose such a policy, up from 42% in a Post/ABC poll in 2013, and the highest in Post/ABC polling since 1994.
    Curiously, the number of adults who said they are "very or somewhat worried" about themselves or a family member being involved in a terrorist attack registered 42%, which is down from a Gallup poll from last June, cited by the Post, in which 49% of respondents expressed concern in response to the same question.
    Despite strident security-focused rhetoric on the 2016 campaign trail and a raft of high-profile terror attacks at home and abroad over the last several months, the Washington Post notes that "the current level of concern fits in the middle of the range seen over the past decade."
    The poll also included questions on President Obama's approval rating. According to the survey, 45% of the country approves of President Obama's overall performance. The President's approval rating was 46% the previous month, per the Post/ABC.
    According to the Washington Post/ABC News, the poll was conducted Dec. 10 - 13 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on conventional and cellular telephones, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.