Fully 49% of the public says it is more important to protect the rights of Americans who own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership, according to an April 2012 national survey.

Opinion has been divided since early 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s election. From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than protect rights.

As in recent campaigns, voters rate social issues — including gun control, abortion, birth control and gay marriage — as far less important than the economy or jobs. About half of registered voters (47%) say gun control will be very important to their vote for president this fall; even fewer rate abortion (39%), birth control (34%) and gay marriage (28%) as very important. By wide margins, the economy (86% very important) and jobs (84%) are the top voting issues. Read More