Does Poll Find Broad Support For Universal Background Checks?

(AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax, File)

One of the more popular gun control policies pushed by the left lately is universal background checks. Understand, though, when I say popular, I don’t just mean among the anti-Second Amendment crowd. Even many gun owners have espoused support for the idea.


Normally, though, the questions asked are vague enough to suggest the potential for people misunderstanding the intent. “Do you support background checks?” could mean universal background checks. It could also mean the current background check program.

However, a new study from Pew supposedly suggests otherwise.

It’s obvious that gun owners and non-gun owners often disagree on gun policy, but recent Pew Research surveys show they share some opinions, too.

The divisions are where you might expect them: Pew found that most gun owners oppose bans on assault-style weapons or on high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Most non-gun owners support those bans.

But both groups largely support universal background checks — that is, requiring those checks for private gun sales or at gun shows to keep firearms out of the wrong hands. About 72% of gun owners support them versus 87% of non-gun owners.

Adam Winkler teaches at UCLA and wrote the book “Gunfight: The Battle Over The Right To Bear Arms In America.” He said this common ground is growing, but isn’t new.

“We’ve seen for years that gun owners do support more restrictive laws that will protect public safety, such as universal background checks and things like red flag laws or even banning people from the terrorist watch list from buying guns,” he said.


But what did Pew actually ask? Could they have asked a similarly vague question?

Not really, but it’s also not quite what is reported above, either.

Pew found support not for truly universal background checks, but for background checks being required at gun shows, which 72 percent of the people claiming to be gun owners support.

There are two problems.

One is the idea of broad support for universal background checks in general. While poll after poll claims this is what people want, that polling never pans out when people get a chance to vote for these measures. It was defeated in Maine, and even where it passed, it didn’t see anything close to 70 percent support. This is despite claims that such a percentage of gun owners back such laws.

Second, with regard to what this poll found, anti-Second Amendment folks need to cool their jets.

See, gun owners generally know that background checks are already performed at gun shows. Most vendors are licensed gun dealers and, as such, are required to conduct a background check. In other words, a number of these gun owners are merely saying they support the system in place.


At most, they want to see the handful of people selling their private collections to have some way to conduct a background check as well. That’s about all it is.

Of course, that won’t stop the media from crowing about how this once again proves there’s this broad support for universal background checks. However, this does even less to prove their case as the survey didn’t ask about private sales between strangers, gifting guns to someone, loaning firearms to another party, or any of that kind of thing.

Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

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