Public attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change after last week's Newtown, Ct., shootings, says a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey reported by NPR. A Pew survey of 1,219 adults was done Dec. 17-19. Pew's Andrew Kohut says the Newtown attack "has drawn as much public attention as the entire presidential election at the end" of last year's campaign.
The new poll says 49 percent of respondents agreed it's more important to control gun ownership than it is to protect the right of Americans to own guns; 42 percent said the right of Americans to own guns is more important than gun control. While this was the first time since President Obama took office that "significantly more" respondents make gun control a higher priority than the right to own guns, the shift was not dramatic. After the the July mass shooting at an Aurora, Co., theater, "47 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46 percent said it was more important to protect gun rights." The modest change in opinion can be explained in large part, Kohut said, by the depth of most Americans' feelings on the issue. Eighty percent of respondents, he said, told Pew "I fell strongly about this." "It's not easy to move strong opinions," he said.