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WASHINGTON DC -- Americans are becoming more conservative on gun control, but more liberal on gay marriage, a public opinion poll that put the hot-button social issues under the microscope suggested Wednesday.
Forty-nine percent of respondents to the Pew Research Center survey said it was important to protect the constitutional right of Americans to own guns -- compared to 45 percent who thought gun control should take precedence.
From 1993 through 2008, it was the other way around, with a majority of respondents putting greater importance on controlling gun ownership, said Pew in a statement on its website (www.pewresearch.org).
Pew also found that 47 percent of Americans now favor allowing gay and lesbian couple to marry -- well up from 39 percent in 2008 and 31 percent in 2004. Forty-three percent remain opposed.
Pew's survey was conducted April 4-15 in the aftermath of the controversial shooting death of black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by a white neighborhood watch volunteer who was arrested two months after the killing.
Pollsters canvassed 3,008 adult respondents by telephone or cellphone, giving a margin of error of around 3.0 percent.