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Americans and guns: It's complicated
Political divide steeped in gun control attitudes
W guns
This 2013 file photo shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo. A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans have grown more divided over gun issues. The survey of adults showed about half favor gun-control measures while about half support preserving gun rights. The results underscore the divide in the United States along political, racial, gender and geographic lines. - photo by Associated Press
ATLANTA — Americans have long had a complex relationship with guns.Now, a new study shows that the country's deep political divide is reflected in attitudes toward gun control. The Pew survey released Thursday found a sharp drop since 2000 in overall support for gun control despite common ground on some key issues.For example, when people were asked whether it was more important to protect gun rights or control gun ownership, 51 percent favored gun control and 47 percent favored gun rights. Compare that with responses in 2000, when two-thirds of those surveyed said they supported gun control measures.People in the new survey were in broad agreement when asked about specific gun control measures.Some 89 percent supported preventing the mentally ill from buying guns and 84 percent of all adults supported background checks for private sales and at gun shows.Barring gun purchases for people on no-fly lists won support from 83 percent, while 71 percent of adults, including a small majority of gun owners, supported a federal database tracking gun sales.The survey showed wide disparities in how people view firearms along political, gender, racial and geographic lines.
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