Anti-gunners love to cite polls claiming that X percentage of NRA members support Y law that the anti-gun zealots are pushing for in a given time. They claim it’s proof that the NRA is out of touch with its membership and that lawmakers should dismiss the group’s arguments out of hand. After all, their members want this new law. The polls say so.
But, when we talk to actual NRA members, we are hard pressed to find these mythical gun control supporting members. Maybe they’re located somewhere else or something, but they’re not around here.
I’ve asked my fellow members in my neck of the woods, the ones I knew but were unsure of where they stood on certain policies, and to a one, they report their opposition to many of these proposals. When I do find some that support these ideas, it’s nowhere near the percentage reported by the polls.
Having spoken with people from various parts of the country, that holds true in many other places including liberal bastions like California and New York.
So what gives?
Well, over at America’s First Freedom, they mention exactly what is up with all of that.
With headlines like “Most Gun Owners Support Stricter Laws—Even NRA Members,” and “Do Gun Owners Want Gun Control? Yes, Some Say Post-Parkland” becoming increasingly common, former NRA President Marion P. Hammer recently penned an article for the website Sunshine State News setting the record straight. “None of these pollsters has access to NRA’s membership list,” she confirmed. To safeguard members’ privacy, she said, the list isn’t distributed—and anyone claiming to have access to it is lying.
In other words, pollsters are relying on respondents to tell them whether they’re NRA members or gun owners. They have no way of confirming whether the responses are honest—and in fact, these questions lend themselves to false answers. After all, how many gun owners would tell a stranger—who may already know their name and address—about their guns or NRA membership, and risk that information being added to a database or disseminated irresponsibly?
The NRA commissioned a poll and contacted 1,000 NRA members to serve as a representative sample of the membership. What the NRA found is that around 90 percent opposed pretty much everything the anti-gunners are trying to push right now.
So why the discrepancy?
There are a lot of reasons, but part of it is probably the fact that anti-gunners believe that the ends justify the means, so they have no problem lying about their affiliation with the NRA to skew a poll. Think about it. These are the same people who value human life to such a degree that they are hoping that children are killed just to change one person’s mind. Do you think someone like that would think twice about lying to a pollster?
Another may be oddly worded questions. If you phrase a question in one way, it can elicit a different answer than if it were worded another way. It’s why pollsters routinely spend a lot of time discussing the wording of their polls. How a question is phrased matters a great deal, and where an organization conducts a poll matters.
Gun owners in New York or California may well be more likely to accept some of these policies as an incremental change, whereas someone from Texas or Alabama might look at it and think it a quantum leap in gun control. Focusing your polling in the wrong area can skew the results, which is why care needs to be taken to make sure there’s representation from a variety of locales.
Polling is difficult, to be sure, but we know damn good and well that NRA members aren’t clamoring for gun control no matter what the polls are claiming. That means they need to reevaluate how they do their jobs.