04/26/2007 - Last week's shootings at Virginia Tech have had little immediate impact on public opinion about gun control. Six-in-ten Americans say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 32% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns. Opinion has changed little since 2004, when 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect the rights of gun owners.
At the same time, a 55% majority opposes a ban on the sale of handguns, while just 37% favor such a ban. There was greater support for gun control in the late 1990s and in 2000. In 2000, the public was evenly split over a handgun ban (47% favor/47% opposed).
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 18-22, 2007, among 1,508 adults, finds deep public differences about whether mass shootings like those at Virginia Tech reflect broader problems in society or are just the isolated acts of individuals.
Roughly half (47%) say such shootings are isolated acts, while about as many (46%) say they reflect broader societal problems. Opinions on this issue are divided politically; a solid majority of conservative Republicans (57%) say shootings like the one at Blacksburg are just the isolated acts of troubled individuals.
Read full report Va. Tech Shootings Produce Little Boost for Gun Control, Public Also Divided About Causes of Massacre on the Pew Research Center Web site.