Nearly two years after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, Americans have had a change of heart about guns.
More people now support gun rights than gun control. According to a Pew Research Center poll, 52 percent said "it's more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46 percent say it is more important to control gun ownership."
The national telephone survey, conducted last week, queried more than 1,100 adults. The sample included 408 Republicans, 445 Democrats and 574 Independents.
Nearly six in 10 Americans (57%) said gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% said it does more to endanger personal safety.
"I think the questions posed a false dichotomy," said Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God's Call, a Philadelphia faith-based gun-violence-prevention organization.
"If they had asked a specific question, such as, 'Do you believe there should be a background check with every handgun purchase,' or 'Do people need a license to get a gun?' or 'Should all handguns be registered with police?' you would have had strong majorities supporting those specific gun-violence protection measures," Miller said.
The NRA was uncharacteristically terse when asked about the survey.
"The facts speak for themselves," said national spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. He declined to elaborate.
A call to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was not immediately returned.
This Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Why Lanza targeted the school remains a mystery.
In the days after Newtown, 48 percent said guns do more to protect people and 37 percent said they placed people at risk, according to Pew.
Miller said the language used in questioning may also have skewed the survey results.
"I never use those two words, 'gun control'," he said. "People stop listening when they hear them."