Untangling the Spin: Polling on Background Checks Highly Misleading
Throughout the ongoing gun control debate, polls citing overwhelming support for expanded background checks have been the norm. Today’s ABC News/Washington Post poll was no different:
With a vote on gun control measures pending, 86 percent support extending background checks to gun sales at gun shows and online. … Notably, though, even among gun owners and those who think guns make a home safer, 86 and 82 percent, respectively, support expanded background checks.
Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?
President Obama sure thinks so. Last week, he urged Americans to “find out where your member of Congress stands on this. If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not?”
The real question is what do YOU mean by “background checks” Mr. President?
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check to borrow a friend’s hunting rifle? In the original Reid bill (which was the pending bill when Pres. Obama issued his call to action), borrowing a friend’s hunting rifle without a background check would be a felony.
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check to buy a firearm advertised on the local church bulletin board? The Schumer-Toomy-Manchin Amendment would require such a check.
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check if it cost law-abiding gun owners $125? According to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin Amendment would “charge a $30 to $50 and up to a $125 fee, creating a new de facto tax on guns.”
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of expanded background checks if it weakens mental health privacy laws? According to Heritage, the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin Amendment “reduces existing privacy protection for mental health records relevant to background checks.”
These are the questions the polls do not ask, but these are the questions that matter to law-abiding Americans. And on the questions that matter, 90 percent isn’t 90 percent.