05/14/2008 - As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns, a majority of Americans (59%) say they would oppose a law that banned the sale of handguns, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Opposition to a prohibition of handgun sales is up slightly, from 55% a year ago shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings, but it represents a more substantial increase from the 1990s, when roughly half of Americans opposed a ban on handguns.
The survey, conducted April 23-27 among 1,502 Americans, finds that public attitudes about gun control also have shown little change in recent years.
Despite the public's opposition to a ban on handgun sales, most Americans continue to say that in general it is more important to control gun ownership than to protect the rights of gun owners. Roughly six-in-ten (58%) say it is more important to control gun ownership while 37% say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns.
Public attitudes about gun control and a handgun ban are divided along political, gender and racial lines. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (73%) oppose a ban on handgun sales, a view shared by 59% of independents and just half of Democrats. Democrats differ over a law to ban handgun sales. A majority of the party's conservatives and moderates (53%) oppose such a ban; among liberal Democrats, 43% are opposed while half favor a ban on handgun sales.
Read the full report Handguns: Public Rejects a Ban -- but Supports Controls on the Pew Research Center Web site.