Careless talk (courtesy thepinkflamingo.com)

“Every year there is a slightly smaller percentage of American households owning guns.” That’s former President Bill Clinton speaking at a campaign rally for his wife, railing against the the “gun lobby.” politifact.com checked Mr. Clinton’s assertion and rated it half true. This despite the fact that their analysis of various polls proved the statement false. (While there have been years with slight dips, the overall number remains flat.) What’s not addressed: how valid are any of these polls? Would your average gun owner admit to an anonymous survey taker that he or she owned guns? Would you?

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134 Responses to Question of the Day: Would You Tell A Survey Taker That You Own Guns?

    • Seriously, you get phone calls asking if you have guns? WTF?

      You musta put yourself on someone’s radar. That gotta hurt.

      • Would you answer these questions:

        – Do you keep gold, jewels, or cash in your house?
        – How many sex toys do you own?
        – Have you ever cheated on your sig.other?
        – How about anal sex. Do you like that?

        WHY WOULD ANYONE answer ANY questions on the phone? If for no other reason they are using the asset you pay for (phone line, your time) to enrich the company doing the calling.

        A serious FO to them.

    • I know that everybody jokes about it but in the event of gun registration the government will just assume that people with hunting licenses and CHL will own guns. Always be the good citizen and register your least favorate and/or non essential pieces in your collection. The ones you plan on keeping secret you sold prior to universal background checks to those insurectionist gun nuts you met through TTAG.

  1. Nope. Nobody’s business but mine – and certainly not the business of whatever busybody think tank such pollsters report to.

  2. Definitely I would not! Nowadays how do you know that the really from A survey poll and not somebody randomly calling numbers out of the phone book to see if they can come and Rob you?? I don’t trust hardly anybody!

    • Despite the group think here I believe it to be accurate.

      There are more guns now than ever before, but far fewer gun owners hold those weapons. Not hard to believe considering most people have 10 or more firearms in their collection and the majority own 20 or more.

  3. I would caution everyone that is quick to jump on the “hell no!” wagon that it might due more harm than good. You have to consider how these results are consistently being twisted to match the message, rather than reporting on the findings. That’s how most statistics are done (poorly).

    By half the gun owners of America saying “No”, you are likely to trigger all sorts of news coverage about how America is willingly disarming itself because the gun owners “have seen the light”. Follow that up with “gun owners now feel it’s for the greater good to disarm”. Follow that with legislation against owning guns and leading us towards a defenseless citizens because “gun ownership is at an all time low, so lets curb it before the next major uptick”.

    Just food for thought.

    • Valid points. However, the anti-gun libs will twist ANY of the facts to fit their narrative so does it really benefit TPOG to answer these polls endorsed (mostly) by liberal-media?

      If gun ownership is truly going down, how do these geniuses explain record-breaking NICS gun purchase checks for the past 4 months and steady increase on those gun purchase checks since the current POTUS took residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

      Again, logic & facts mean nothing to the rabid anti-gun crowd. If the answers to these polls don’t fit their unicorn-populated utopia, they’ll lie and twist the information until it fits THEIR view.

    • I imagine the left will twist survey results to get whatever they want out of them. They twist facts all the time … it’s their forte.

      • Anyone, from any background, twists the information they have to drive the value they are trying to get folks sided with. I don’t care what side of the fence you are on, that’s these games are played. At the end of the day this is all about folks wanting to grow and keep in power and money.

        I could just as easily see conservative folks seeing the same twisted facts, and using that as a reason to let off on the gun control issues and focus their attention on something higher in the headlines so they are not seen as “beating the dead horse”.

        As much as we like to think we are either “with the left” or “with the right”, it is really the left and the right fighting over our votes and our money. Both sides have been for and against pretty much anything that can be debated. Look at all the flip-flop on gun control, war on terror plans, government tracking, drug war etc.. The politicians are just up there to polarize the masses to swing votes, not protect the people and their interests.

        That being said, I will again just warn people to consider their actions. It is never just as simple as “if I don’t tell people no harm can come!”. The gun grabbers will make the data work for them no matter what you do, and for some folks, it might make more sense to be truthful so the gun grabbers have a real sense for what they are up against.

        Just my two cents.

        • The more data that doesn’t fit the anti-gun agenda, the harder they have to twist it, and their lies become all the more obvious.

    • Since the political left will lie about anything, it really doesn’t matter what you say or what you don’t say.

      Tell me again, sir, when did you stop beating your wife?

    • I already have no reason to believe that any survey is worth a damn or that participating in legacy media or opinion polls is going to make any meaningful difference whatsoever. Legacy media is obsolete–they just don’t know it yet.

      I don’t expect I’ll encounter any surveys in the first place. I don’t answer my land line. I don’t talk to people who set up shop in public places and ask for “a minute of my time.” And I don’t click on internet surveys or respond to email questionnaires (not that I can recall seeing any such thing, anyway). So, no, I’ll never participate in polls so long as I successfully avoid crossing paths with survey takers.

      Meanwhile, I do write my reps about gun legislation and have admitted in correspondence to being a “gun owner.” I post these comments here at TTAG. I occasionally blog about guns. And I talk about guns to friends, family and coworkers, none of whom will believe any survey that tries to claim something dumb like “only 5% of households own guns” if they personally know a number of people who do.

  4. Anonymously, yes, because underreporting of gun ownership statistics only helps anti-gunners. Non-anonymously, of course not, unless the survey was itself run by the SAF or something.

    • Yes and no. Under reporting gun ownership rates gives them the illusion that fewer and fewer people own guns and provides them a comforting talking point that may or may not be true. You and I know antis rely greatly on “comfort,” real or imaginary.

      Meanwhile, they don’t understand it when an anti-gun bill can’t make it through congress when gun ownership rates are supposedly “declining.” Simple fact is – people don’t want it and pressure their legislators not to pass it directly to the representatives and indirectly through membership and funding of the NRA.

      Look at this chart:
      http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/n-k9vdg170sylv4thxvfsw.gif

      So 47% have a gun in the home that actually admitted to having a gun. Since nothing goes through congress – my guess is there is good additional portion that don’t admit to having any.

  5. No.
    But I would give them an American history lesson on racist gun control laws used to disarm law abiding black people.

    • I tell them I’m not interested and to never call again. Simply hanging up usually results in people calling back eventually.

    • I’m in Tom’s camp. I don’t usually answer calls from numbers that aren’t in my address book anyway.
      When I used to get these calls my response was, “I don’t care to participate in your poll.”

    • Yeah, I’d probably just say (truthfully) “I don’t have time.” If I did actually start the survey for some reason, I’d absolutely say yes. I visit TTAG regularly, run a firearms Facebook page, and own a firearms YouTube channel. If the government is looking for gun owners, they’ll find me already. That’s why I was “willing” to get a CHL.

      If they’re a bad guy planning to rob me… Well, that’s why I own guns…

  6. I would tell them it’s not a question I am willing to answer, thereby not saying yes or no. Never know if they’re trying to find people without guns for an easier robbery, or if someone has guns to try to steal those.

  7. Probably, I’d tell them that I own a couple cheap ones. The BATF, at the very least, already knows what I really have.

  8. Generally no, and less so every year as criminals become more sophisticated and polls more twisted by pols.

    But I think there are fewer people out there willing to answer random poll questions of any sort, not just about guns. Fewer people have landline phones, and fewer want to be disturbed at home, out for dinner or at work. Online polls will almost always suffer from self-selection bias at some level, by their nature; so poll data are becoming less and less reliable and representative in general, even when run honestly.

  9. Since the government already knows I have filled out a 4473 I have no problem admitting that not all of my purchases were lost when the boat flipped over. Yes I own. More than zero, less than 1000.

  10. What about: “I won’t say, but my neighbor, brother, father, uncle and cousin do. In fact everyone I know does.”

  11. Sure…if they actually reached me. I don’t answer numbers that I don’t recognize.

    I think there’s a lot of misguided paranoia on this. The people you’re worried about already know you have guns. Or if they don’t yet, they can easily find out without your knowledge.

    Polls and surveys are the least of your worries — except for the part where people who hate the way we choose to pursue life, liberty, and happiness would like to use the results as proof that we’re a dirty, shameful minority that doesn’t deserve civil rights.

    As a matter of fact, I received a national hunting/wildlife/outdoor recreation survey over the weekend, and if it asks whether I own guns (it probably won’t), I’ll answer yes. Any question that concerns my favorite hobby also concerns my two favorite civil rights, and I’ll answer with pride.

  12. There are certain things there are just between my priest and myself others just between my NRA insurance and myself.

    All other information is on a need to known basis, whereas I will tell you have no need to know.

  13. If you think that you can be sure any survey is “anonymous,” I have a bridge to sell… If they have your phone number or address, they have all the personal information they need to do pretty much anything.

    I don’t answer surveys at all. Including the damned census. They already know who and where I am, and that’s too much already.

    I belong to an electric power co-op, and every once in a while they call me (usually after my bed time) to ask the same damned questions. I answered the first one ten years ago, and now I simply refer them to the two questions I answered then.

    Am I happy with my electric service? When I flip the switch, yes. When I open the ever higher bill each month? Not so much.

    • If they have your phone number or address, they have all the personal information they need to do pretty much anything.
      Bingo. Could be criminals casing your place.

  14. I’ve been asked exactly twice on some poll or another if I own any guns.
    The answer is always “No, I don’t own any guns.”

    ’nuff said.

  15. Nope and most people who could give real answers to a survey question simply don’t stop or hang up the phone. The ones that stop seem to automatically be joking or are just happy to be getting talked to so will say anything.

    It’s a variation of the old “being tried by 12 folks too stupid to get out of jury duty” saying.

    That’s why a lot of surveys are conducted in bars (captive, eventually chatty audience). It’s why you get a lot of headlines like “9 out of 10 American Science Majors don’t know the boiling point of water”. Of course by the time of the night people are willing to talk to the survey taker 9 out of 10 don’t know their own names.

    This is also why we know there are 300,000,000 ish firearms in the US but only 1 in 100,000 asked say they have guns so the headlines read something like “All guns in US belong to a couple of gun nuts living in swamps”.

  16. “Guns? Me?”

    “Oh, heavens, no.”

    “My ex-wife took all my guns during the divorce. She has them all. Would like her info for your databas… I mean survey?”

  17. Would you answer a survey?

    “Yes. I charge $1000 per question, with a 4 question minimum. How would you like to pay?”

    What?

    “How would like to pay? I take PO’s, cash, bullion. And by the way, that’s two.”

    They usually get to about four before they give up.

  18. Here in SoDak, that might be the calibration question – anyone saying “no” would have her survey answers thrown out because she’s obviously lying.

  19. I probably wouldn’t even participate to begin with. Survey takers, solicitors, etc annoy the crap out of me. It’s a shame 95% of those calling the house now are automated. I got a real kick out of yelling at telemarketers in German until they hung up. Quite a few never called back after that.

  20. I would most definitely NOT tell an anonymous survey taker (surveyor?) whether or not I own any firearms.

    A great many number of my friends, neighbors, and family don’t even know what I have.

  21. If its a telephone survey, you don’t know for sure who is calling, but you should assume they know who you are and where you live. Any answer you give them about guns or what other valuables are in your home might make you a target of burglary.
    A face to face “man in the street” interview with no personal ID might be okay.

  22. Absolutely not. For all I know you’re really a burglar looking for a good house to rob. If they ask, I will decline to answer. If they won’t accept that, I will hang up.

  23. If anything, this trend is more indicative of people being less and less trustful of some random person calling them or knocking on their door and asking how many guns they have. It the the polling equivalent of a boating accident. Given all the calls for “Australian” style gun control, this doesn’t surprise me.

  24. “Sorry, I don’t participate in surveys”. If there is anonymity I may participate, but most don’t (such as phone-surveys) so I opt out.

  25. I usually don’t bother answering the phone if I don’t recognize the phone number but if I do screw up and answer and it happens to be a survey I will lie just for the hell of it and for distracting me from whatever I was doing.

  26. For questions regarding, firearms ownership, home security, and the like, I have a standard answer from which I do not waver: “I do not discuss my security posture.” It’s important to only say that, and then say nothing until the questioner feels compelled to speak into the great empty silence. (First one who speaks, loses – it’s a power thing).

  27. The irony of taking a survey of who would not answer if they owned guns in a survey is not lost on me.

  28. “Why do you ask?”

    Silly me, any conversation I’m involved with, I like to think it’s for my benefit. And if it’s for yours, I’d like to know what I’m assisting with. The fact that you want it, doesn’t mean I have to give it to you.

    Really, you can have the most interesting conversation from this perspective. They have No Idea what they are doing or why. The notion that you don’t just do anything at all for the asking is completely foreign. Phone surveys, political polls, upsells from utilities, blah, blah, blah…

    I’m such a curmudgeon on this kind of thing I declined to give the last census my mother’s phone number. This confused them.

    If you “admit” to staying overnight somewhere else, their procedure says they need to call that person to make sure they didn’t claim you as a resident on their census replies. Hard to call when they can’t get a name or a number. “I assert that I’m not a resident anywhere but here, and nobody’s going to claim me as such.” was apparently not sufficient.

    Giving them some context didn’t help. “Not that it’s your business, but I stay overnight sometimes when visiting my aged mother. I’m not helping you bug her in her home. You want to bother an old lady do it on your own.”

    The follow-up phone call was interesting. “I have already told you I am not doing this for the asking, so if you feel so strongly about it, make me. Or try to. We’re talking about my mother here, so if you want to make this a test case about compliance with the regulations, I’m game. No. I will not help you bug her. Keep bugging me and I’ll make it a test case on my own.”

    “You have my verbal response on this, doubtless voice recorded. Do you want a letter? Something notarized? From my lawyer? Is there some other way I can say “no” more clearly?”

    Good times.

  29. Nope. But who needs a survey when they can just look on your Facebook profile, or what kind of groups you are associated with. I’m not immune from that one…

  30. Check out Gallup and the percentage of firearms ownership.

    In 1993 51% of respondents to their poll admitted to owning guns. in 1997 on 38% admitted to owning one.

    That is a pretty serious discrepancy. That means that something like 25% of all gun owners in this country suddenly lost them?

  31. Answering questions of some random ass survey? I wouldn’t tell them if I preferred Ford or Chevy or if liked boots over tennis shoes. Hell, I don’t even answer the phone if the caller isn’t in my contact list.

    On the off chance that I end up involved in a survey, then it’s either I walk away/ask the person to leave or tell them “Guns? I don’t need no stinkin’ guns!” (with apologies to Hedley Lamarr’s posse members). Not going to make it easier for people to profile me or make a dollar off my information.

  32. I once had a lady call to give me a free trial subscrption to the newspaper. By the time our conversation was done she had called me a “son of a bitch” and a “motherfucker”. I shit you not.

    I’d hate to think of the conversation between me and a pollster talking about guns.

  33. I wouldn’t answer at all. Once I found out it was a gun survey, I’d just hang up. No yes/no answer. Leave them wondering.

    • wow you same name as me and the same name I sometimes post under, so I guess I better post with my last name as well.

      Howdy from WA state, hope no one has mixed us up.

      That’s a brilliant answer. in Tennessee you should be surveying to find the lack of gun ownership rate.

  34. I would tell a survey taker I own firearms.

    Seriously you people are worried that criminals are taking your name out of the phone book and asking you to rob you? That’s pure paranoia.

    Whats to stop these advanced overthinking home burglars from simply waiting at the Cabela’s parking lot and following you home? that’s much easier and far more likely then a faux survey. I have pictures of my guns on social media, I take my friends who are not regular shooters or gun people to range all the time. I participate in second amendment events, that gives people far more open information then a call from a survey group.

    but if you’re concerned you can do this, tell the survey taker you wish to answer questions after verifying the survey and ask for a name and call back number, then verify the outfit and call them back. I do it all the time.

  35. I thought this sight was The Truth About Gums. Periodontal site. My mistake. Nope no guns here. If that lake ever dries up due to global warming there will be some interesting items in it. Maybe find Jimmy Hoffa, too.

  36. We have only cell phones and we do NOT answer any call that does not come up in our known contacts. If it is important, they will leave a message. If they leave a message, we decide how to proceed. Pollsters and hucksters do not normally leave voice mails.
    There, poll problem fixed.

  37. The answers one gets in surveying for gun ownership are probably as reliable as random surveys asking about sex (STDs, number of partners, fidelity to partner, unconventional practices), income or even party affiliation.

    It’s none of their GD business, unless I can discern what they are looking for them I’ll “play along”.

    J

  38. Of course I’d tell a survey taker I owned guns, if I owned guns. Which I don’t.

    P.S. In the nightstand survey, I lied about a G19 with Surefire light because I just wanted to fit in.

  39. No I would not share that information with a poll taker. Then again I won’t share ANY information with a poll taker. Just hang up on them folks!

  40. I don’t have a land line. I’ve never been called on my cell phone for a survey. Had the same number for 14 years. This means to me that these surveys aren’t including a large group of people with unlisted numbers – the kinds of people that like privacy and cost efficiency (no second phone bill) in their lives.

  41. Let me see here: would I tell a completely anonymous stranger on the telephone whether I own guns or not?

    a) Do I want to get “SWATted?”
    b) Do I want to be flat-out robbed?
    c) Do I want to be stalked by civilians or government?

    or would I prefer d) None of the above?

    I’m going to go with d) None of their damn business.

  42. Not a chance! But I use Caller ID to systematically ignore Phone Surveys and if I screw-up and get on the line accidentally, I politely decline, or the phone system suddenly fails mysteriously.
    We have become Poll Saturated and I have zero confidence in them, so I simply won’t contribute my fraction of input to a process I consider deeply flawed.

  43. I just tell them to come ask me their questions in person, because I’ve been craving liver and saving a nice bottle of Chianti for a special occasion.

  44. Of course there is a bigger picture sort of concept to consider here….
    It really doesn’t matter if the number of households owning guns is huge or tiny. Our constitution is supposed to protect the rights of all, the rights of everyone, the rights of the minority, and the rights of the individual.
    These surveys and polls give credence to the notion that the will of the majority is somehow important in determining whether a certain right is valid or not.
    We should do everything possible to make sure that this notion quickly withers up and dies. The way to do that is to invalidate as much as possible the accuracy/validity of these polls/surveys. If ever there was a group that deserved to be unemployed, the people that design and run polls are it.

  45. I find the discourse on the merits of answering the question honestly vs dishonestly amusing.

    Why would you answer ANY telephone survey? Of ANY kind? EVER? Are you lonely? Got nothing better to do?

    We don’t even pick the phone up unless it’s someone we know. EVER. Likewise, I don’t answer the door to strangers…. EVER. If we’re not expecting you, we’re simply not interested in whatever you have to offer.

    There is no conceivable (to me) benefit in answering unsolicited calls, surveys, emails, or people at the door. EVER. 🙂

    • +1 Although I have (rarely) spent a few minutes deliberately lying to a pollster, just to mess up their numbers.

  46. Question, how many of us personally know at least one person that in the past year has purchased a firearm for the first time? I know two (one is a Marine, so I don’t know if that counts, although it was his first civilian gun).
    Take that times the millions of current gun owners and you have a substantial increase.
    I’m not counting the ones who have simply asked about a firearm for protection and have not told me if they actually followed through.

  47. TTAG frequenters would likely all not answer or just make something else up, but Joe Blow average, who knows.

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