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Public Opinion Sees Modest Change About Gun Control After Newtown Shooting – Survey

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Despite the tragic outcome of last week’s shooting at an elementary school Newtown, Connecticut, the public’s attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change, according to a recent survey.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, currently 49% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.

Last Friday, in Newtown, Connecticut, a shooter identified as Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school. Prior to that he also killed his mother. Lanza also took his own life. Just days prior to the Connecticut tragedy, Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, opened fire in the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall in a Portland suburb. Roberts killed two people, and injured a teen girl, before killing himself.

United States
United States

With respect to the current topic of assault weapons, about two-thirds (65%) think that allowing citizens to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous. Just 21% say that permitting these types of weapons makes the country safer, according to the survey.

The Pew Research Center said the latest figures mark the first time since Barack Obama took office that more Americans prioritize gun control than the right to own guns. Opinion was evenly divided in July, following a shooting at a Colorado movie theater. At that time, 47% said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46% said it was more important to protect gun rights.

Support for gun control remains lower than before Obama took office, noted the survey, adding that in April 2008, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership, with just 37% prioritizing protecting gun rights.

The Pew Center survey notes that as in the past, there are wide partisan and demographic differences in opinions about gun control. Majorities of men, whites and Republicans say it is more important to protect gun rights. By contrast, most women, blacks, Democrats and those in the Northeast prioritize controlling gun ownership. In other regions, opinion is divided.

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