Poll claiming gun owners support gun control flawed

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One of the recurring talking points among the anti-Second Amendment crowd is that gun owners actually support gun control. They claim it over and over again.

Which is weird because absolutely none of us seem to encounter these gun owners in our day-to-day life.

Of course, many of us are heavily involved in the Second Amendment community, but may not have as much contact with casual gun owners. So maybe our experiences are wrong?

Well, that’s kind of what a recent poll basically suggests.

2021 saw a spike in gun violence that surpassed even the 2020 surge. At least 12 major U.S. cities broke homicide records, police departments nationwide seized record numbers of illegal guns, and mass shootings like the tragedy at Michigan’s Oxford High School continue to dominate headlines.

If we want 2022 to look any different, the moment is now for serious, sustained countermeasures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We must not stand silent, yet that’s exactly what Congress seems intent on doing — a silence rooted in the belief that there is an impenetrable divide between gun owners and non-gun owners on gun legislation. But a poll by 97Percent and Beacon Research proves that notion is wrong.

The poll of more than 1,000 gun owners across the country found that an overwhelming majority support key gun safety policies, including Republicans and National Rifle Association (NRA) members. But most critically, when asked how many of their peers support these policies, the numbers disintegrated.

As two people on opposite sides of the aisle — who have worked with this kind of data, strategizing on how to move the needle on intractable issues — this disconnect between reality and presumption reveals an opening.

Eighty-six percent of the gun owners polled said they support universal background checks, with 84 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of NRA members surveyed voicing support. Sixty-seven percent of the gun owners surveyed support “red flag” laws (61 percent Republicans and 57 percent NRA members), which allow police to temporarily remove guns from a person deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Domestic violence offender restrictions, safe storage requirements and distinct markings requirements all polled above 70 percent.

Except, here’s where the problem breaks down.

First, the report they link to never actually mentions universal background checks. It just calls for background checks on “all” gun sales. We already have background checks for any firearm sold by a licensed dealer, which is most of the guns sold lawfully in this country. So much so that many may well feel that we already have that.

By not differentiating between what we have and universal background checks, it’s impossible to determine how many of that supposed 86 percent were in favor of expanding such checks and how many were in favor of maintaining the status quo.

Further, we know that while polling has long claimed that people support background checks being required on all guns sold in this country–how the pollsters phrased the question–that goes out the window when they learn they can’t sell a gun to their best friend or their cousin.

Universal background checks failed at the ballot box more than once, which suggests that people may like the sounds of it, but they don’t necessarily like any way it’s going to be implemented.

Yet all of that is just one issue.

The problem with this poll is that they require people to admit to owning a gun. Most gun owners don’t seem to want to admit to having them, despite the fact that we know they do. They’ll share a picture of a gun then talk about that tragic boating accident where they lost it.

Do you really think they’re going to tell some stranger who calls their house out of the blue that they have guns?

As a result, the poll of respondents isn’t really going to be representative of the gun community as a whole.

I’ll give them credit for not having the most awful sample size I’ve ever seen, but it’s still only a drop in the bucket compared to gun ownership in this country. That means even without the above-mentioned problem, you’re still looking at the fact that these are self-reporting gun owners. That means some people may lie in an effort to skew the results.

Granted, I’m doubtful that practice is widespread, but don’t tell me it doesn’t happen, either.

Then there’s the interesting fact that we’ve seen numerous polls of late saying the public, in general, aren’t supportive of new gun control. That’s not just gun owners, but everyone.

At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter. Our rights are our rights and they don’t get dealt away simply because it’s politically popular.