Public Takes Conservative Turn on Gun Control, Abortion

Apr 30, 2009

Public attitudes on a pair of contentious national issues - gun control and abortion - have moved in a more conservative direction over the past year. In both cases, the changes have been driven in part by relatively large shifts among men, while opinions among women have not changed very much.

For the first time in a Pew Research survey, nearly as many people believe it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns (45%) than to control gun ownership (49%). As recently as a year ago, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership while 37% said it was more important to protect the right to own guns.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 31-April 21 among 1,521 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, also finds public opinion about abortion more closely divided than it has been in several years. Currently, 46% say abortion should be legal in most cases (28%) or all cases (18%); 44% believe that abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%). Since the mid-1990s, majorities have consistently favored legal abortion, with the exception of an August 2001 survey by ABC News/Washington Post.

Read the full report Public Takes Conservative Turn on Gun Control, Abortion on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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