In the wake of the Tucson shootings, there is no significant change in public views on the issue of gun control and gun rights. Currently, 49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership. In September 2010, 50% prioritized gun control, 46% gun rights. In this regard, there is no sign that the longer trend toward an emphasis on gun owners’ rights has abated.
The issue remains a deeply divisive one along party lines -- by a 72%-to-22% margin Republicans say protecting gun rights is more important, while by a 70%-to-26% margin Democrats prioritize gun control. Independents are more divided, with 52% favoring gun rights and 44% gun control. For a comprehensive look at opinions on the gun issue, see "Views of Gun Control -- A Detailed Demographic Breakdown," Jan. 13.
Perhaps one reason that attitudes remained stable was how few saw the events in Tucson as a sign of broader social problems. Most (58%) Americans say things like this are just the isolated acts of troubled individuals. Only about half as many (31%) saw the shooting in Tucson as a reflection of broader problems in American society. By comparison, Americans were more likely to see broader problems behind the Virginia Tech shootings nearly four years ago – at that time, 46% thought the tragic events reflected broader societal problems.
Read the complete report, No Shift Toward Gun Control After Tucson Shootings on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.