Don't get too excited about "common ground" survey results

Don't get too excited about "common ground" survey results
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

For many, the goal is to find common ground on issues relating to guns and gun control. It’s their hope that if they can find enough points of agreement, gun control laws can be passed.

Even if I accepted this premise, though, I know what will happen. Those laws will be passed, only we see no results (at best) so now they want to find “common ground” on still more regulations. Little by little, we’ll see our rights whittled away.

Yet the question remains, does the common ground exist?

According to a recent report, it does.

The majority of gun owners are concerned about gun violence and support policies to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths, according to new research from Tufts University and gun safety organization 97Percent.

Three-fourths of gun owners surveyed said they are concerned about the frequency of school shootings, and 71 percent said the same of mass shootings, according to the research released on Monday. Seventy percent said they also want to help find a way reduce gun-related injuries and deaths.

Most gun owners, including Republican ones, said they support several proposed laws to prevent people with a high risk of violence from accessing guns.

Gun safety organization 97Percent, which touts itself as a bipartisan group of both gun owners and non-gun owners, noted in its report on the research that this defies the current perception that there is an “intractable divide” over gun control in the U.S.

And since 97Percent paid for this study, it’s not surprising that the result was exactly what 97Percent wanted.

It’s part of why all such “studies” need to be questioned vigorously.

Especially since there are, as usual, questions about this study.

Now, the survey was a little over 1,000 people. That sounds like a lot, but in a nation of 400 million guns, I can’t actually believe this is a particularly large sample size. Further, the participants were part of a program where they basically volunteered to be surveyed. This creates, in theory, a pool of individuals who will respond to surveys.

Yet the people who respond to surveys are often not the majority of gun owners. Many, if not most gun owners are distrustful of institutions, particularly ones based in the anti-gun enclave of Chicago.

So yeah, there are questions.

Especially since a quick skim of the report didn’t seem to show exactly what questions were asked. I might have missed it, but damned if I could find it, and that matters since how a question is phrased can change how people respond to the question itself.

But that’s not going to stop 97Percent.

“The myth of an intractable divide in our country is merely that: a myth,” the group said in its report.

More than 70 percent of gun owners said they support laws prohibiting gun possession among those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a domestic violence restraining order, requiring background checks and safety courses for a concealed carry permit, and establishing universal background checks.

See, the bit about 70 percent of gun owners supporting mandatory safety courses to get a permit is what sets my alarm bells off.

Now, I get that I don’t know every gun owner out there, but I have yet to encounter all that many that aren’t distrustful of a government-mandated training requirement. The fear is that the standards could theoretically be adjusted to the point that few could meet it–think a requirement challenging for SWAT officers and special operations personnel to meet–in an effort to basically end concealed carry.

See, what 97Percent needs to understand–especially if they’re gun owners like they claim–is that there’s a reason most of us aren’t interested in giving up ground on gun issues, even if some might actually think they’re not terrible ideas.

The issue isn’t with the ideas themselves. Oh, they’re bad policies, but most of us could probably learn to live with them easily enough.

The problem is that it won’t end there.

With the passage of each bit of gun control, the anti-gun groups simply shift to new goals. They push still more restrictions, each nibbling away at our right to keep and bear arms.

So even if my questions about the survey itself are irrelevant, I still question whether those gun owners stated support would actually translate into real support when the rubber meets the road. Most gun owners actually do recognize that this isn’t where it will end. They’ll be expected to support the next policy, the next infringement, all in the name of “common ground.”

That’s why I don’t really care what 97Percent wants or claims to be about. They’re no different than Giffords, Brady, Everytown, and every other group that wants to annihilate our Second Amendment rights.