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NSSF poll results challenge anti-gunners on background checks

A new survey released today by NSSF reveals public misperceptions about gun shows and background checks.

Dave Workman

Dave Workman
Seattle Gun Rights Examiner

December 23, 2013

The National Shooting Sports Foundation today released the results of an early November scientific survey that revealed "only four out of ten Americans support so-called 'universal background checks' at gun shows" after respondents were advised that the vast majority of those sales are transacted by licensed retailers who already conduct checks through the National Instant Check System (NICS).

Fifty-four percent of the respondents do not think that requiring background checks between friends and family members would be effective at reducing violent crime, and 59 percent are less likely to trust the government with an expanded background check, considering how the Obama administration has handled health care reform and spying on U.S. citizens, the survey found.

"When properly informed of relevant details," noted Larry Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, "it turns out that only four out of ten, not nine out of ten Americans support so-called 'universal background checks' at gun shows or for firearms transfers. The poll also found that Americans want a National Instant Criminal Background Check System with a dependable and accurate database, which supports the goal of the FixNICS initiative we launched in 2013 and will continue in 2014."

Mike Bazinet, NSSF's director of public affairs, assured Examiner that this poll, conducted Nov. 6-7 among 1,200 Americans, was done scientifically by the highly-respected firm, McKeon and Associates. It has a margin error of +/- 4.1 percent.

"This was not a push poll," he said, and to prove it, he supplied this column with the questions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of respondents did not realize that when purchasing a firearm from a licensed retailer at a gun show, federal law requires an in-person FBI background check on that transaction. Fifty-three percent answered "no" and 30 percent did not know this, which suggests that anti-gunners have successfully misled the public into believing that there are no background checks at gun shows.

A follow-up question asked, "A vast majority of guns sold at gun shows are sold by licensed dealers who are required by federal law to conduct background checks before guns are sold. Do you believe additional federal laws like universal background checks are necessary for gun show sales?" Fifty-three percent answered "no" while 40 percent said "yes" and seven percent didn't know.

Bazinet acknowledged that he didn't think this poll would get much attention from the mainstream press because the results do not go along with the popular narrative that 90 percent of the public wants background checks on every firearms transaction.

Pretty much the same thing happened earlier this year when PoliceOne, an organization with 400,000 registered members comprised of law enforcement professionals, did a survey to which more than 15,000 of its members responded. The results of that survey were stunning.

In that survey, done in the spring, 71 percent of the respondents thought that a ban on the manufacture and sale of so-called "assault weapons" would have no effect on reducing violent crime. Slightly more than 60 percent thought passage of the White House's proposed legislation would have no effect in improving officer safety.

More than 79 percent did not think a federal law prohibiting private, non-dealer firearms transfers between individuals would reduce violent crime. More than 95 percent believed a ban on magazines that hold more than ten rounds would have no impact on violent crime.

Here are a couple of eye-openers: Seventy percent do not support "the concept of a national database tracking all legal gun sales." You didn't read or hear about that anywhere. Likewise, nobody reported that 71 percent of the respondents were favorable or very favorable toward law enforcement leaders who said they would not enforce more restrictive gun laws in their jurisdictions.

A whopping 81.5 percent did not believe that gun buybacks or turn-ins have been effective in reducing so-called "gun violence." This column discussed the Seattle gun buyback held earlier this year.

And 91.3 percent of the cops who responded said they support concealed carry by private citizens who have not been convicted of a felony and/or not been deemed psychologically or medically incapable.

Here's another stunner: Eighty percent of the PoliceOne respondents remember these are active duty or retired law enforcement professionals think casualties would be reduced if there had been legally-armed citizens present at high-profile mass shootings, such as happened in Aurora, Colo.

Today's NSSF survey results are something of a Christmas present for gun rights advocates, and a lump of coal in the stockings of gun prohibitionists, while the PoliceOne survey results have been out there for months and have been essentially ignored in the year-long debate about gun rights versus gun control.