The public’s attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Currently, 49% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns…

However, support for gun control remains lower than before Obama took office. In April 2008, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership; just 37% prioritized protecting gun rights…

There is widespread public opposition to a ban on handguns: Two-thirds (67%) oppose banning the possession of handguns, except by law enforcement officers. Far more favor banning bullets designed to explode or penetrate bullet-proof vests (56%) and high capacity ammunition clips (53%). Opinion is divided over whether to ban semi-automatic guns – 44% favor such a ban, while 49% are opposed.