Forty-seven percent say it is more important to pass laws controlling gun ownership, while 46 percent say protecting Second Amendment rights is more important, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
That figure is similar to results from the same survey taken in April, which showed 49 percent prioritizing gun ownership rights and 45 percent calling for more gun control.
Most respondents saw the Aurora incident as an isolated event. Sixty-seven percent said such shootings were “the isolated acts of troubled individuals,” while 24 percent said they “reflect broader problems in American society.”
The poll found a sharp partisan divide over the issue, with self-identified Republicans prioritizing gun ownership rights by 71 to 26 percent. Democrats prioritize gun-control restrictions by a 72-21 margin.
Independents are split, with 50 percent favoring a focus on protecting gun rights and 43 percent on enacting gun control.
The reaction in the aftermath of the July 20 Aurora shootings matches other gun massacres, the poll found.
“There was no significant change in the balance of opinion about gun rights and gun control after the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords [D] was injured. Nor was there a spike in support for gun control following the shooting at Virginia Tech University in April 2007,” said a Pew statement announcing the poll.
The theater shootings again sparked debate over gun reform, but the gun lobby is one of the most influential groups on Capitol Hill, and most lawmakers are reluctant to push new legislation in an election year.
President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney have both avoided calling for legislation to address the issue, instead calling for better enforcement of laws already on the books.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama Mellman: Are independents really so independent? MORE (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio) have both said they have no plans to bring up gun-control bills this session.
The poll was conducted from July 26 to 29 and has a 4-point margin of error.