By a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent, Americans say protecting the rights of gun owners is more important than gun control, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday. It is the first time Pew found more support for gun ownership than gun control in more than two decades of surveys on the issue.
“Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shooting,” the Pew report says. The second anniversary of the massacre is this Sunday.
Right after the mass shooting, in which a gunman killed 27 people and then himself, the balance of opinion favored gun control. But since January 2013, support for gun rights over gun control has risen from 45 percent to 52 percent, while the percentage who prioritize gun control has gone down, from 51 percent to 46 percent.
Among African-Americans, Pew found a dramatic shift in opinion. A majority of blacks, 54 percent, now say gun ownership does more to protect people than to endanger personal safety. Two years ago, only 29 percent of black Americans held that view.