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Poll shows modest change in US gun control views

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Washington : The US public’s attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of a recent shooting rampage at an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut, US pollster Pew Research Center reported.

The shooting, which occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown, 97 km northeast of New York City, last Friday claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

The tragedy has revived efforts to toughen gun control in the US, with Democrats pushing for a ban on sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines as the first step toward restricting the circulation of military-style assault weapons in the country.

“Currently, 49 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42 percent say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns,” said the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec 17-19 among 1,219 adults.

The result shows only a ‘modest’ change from the previous poll in July following a shooting at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured 58.

“At that time, 47 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46 percent said it was more important to protect gun rights,” the Pew Research Center said.

Friday’s massacre was one of the deadliest in recent memory and the latest such incident in a string of mass shootings in the US over the past few years.

According to latest reports by investigators, the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, went from classroom to classroom shooting at innocent first-graders and staff members with a powerful Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle before killing himself with a single headshot from a handgun.

All the dead children – 12 girls and eight boys – were either 6 or 7 years old.

In addition to the assault rifle, the shooter carried two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. A shotgun was found in his car parked near the school.

Before going on a shooting spree at the school, Lanza, who reportedly had been diagnosed with a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness, killed his 52-year-old mother at their Newtown home.

The motives behind Lanza’s actions are still unknown.

The Pew Research Center survey shows that about two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans now think that allowing citizens to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous.