A convention goer handles a Ruger 1911 model semi-automatic pistol during the142nd annual National Rifle Association convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 4, 2013 in Houston.
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
December 10, 2014

Americans’ opinions on gun rights have shifted further into the “pro” column since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is approaching its second anniversary this month, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

About 52% of Americans said it’s more important to protect gun rights than it is to control who owns them, the survey finds. Just 46% said the latter is most important, marking a significant shift since 1993, when 57% of those surveyed felt controlling gun ownership should be the priority. In January 2013, about a month after the shooting that left 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School dead, support for gun control was at 51%.

The survey revealed an even greater shift in opinion among surveyed Americans of color. In December 2012, only 29% of black Americans said gun ownership does more to protect people from being victims of crimes, while 53% said it further risks one’s safety. This year, 51% said guns protect and only 41% felt they put safety at risk. The change among white Americans was far less dramatic.

Pew’s survey of 1,507 adults was conducted from Dec. 3-7. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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