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So the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) commissioned a poll to blunt the attack on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Specifically, the antis’ attempt to brand “gun violence” a “public health issue.” The NSSF commissioned Harper Polling – a Republican-favoring research company – to ask the question above: “Is Criminal Misuse of Firearms a Public Health Issue or a Criminal Justice Issue”? The NSSF’s touting the 84 percent “Criminal Justice” response as proof “they [the American public] don’t buy it.” But I’m not buying the “good news” the poll supposedly reveals . . .

For one thing, it’s a loaded question. The term “criminal misuse of firearms” supposes that the problem is a criminal justice problem. Criminal misuse = criminal justice. Even as worded, the result is not good for gun rights advocates. The fact that 12 percent of the 1055 likely voters interviewed by a Harper telephone operator went against the question’s obvious bias indicates that the “gun control as a public health initiative” has found fertile soil.

And how come this question doesn’t separate answers into “agree, strongly agree, disagree and strongly disagree”? I can only surmise that a lot of people who agreed that “criminal misuse of firearms” is a “criminal justice problem” did not do so strongly. The other poll results released by the NSSF do include these categories and, more appropriately, use the gun grabbers’ terminology.



And what a difference a phrase makes. Notice that the number of people who strongly agree with the statement that government should classify gun violence as a public health issue is roughly the same as the number who strongly disagree. While the fence straddlers are on the side of government non-reclassification, that’s a whole hell of a lot of people who could be swayed in the antis’ direction.

harper polling for NSSF (courtesy

I’d like to take some comfort from this, the third poll answer released by the NSSF. But I highly doubt that more than 20 percent of Americans have the slightest idea what the CDC is. I suspect that Harper operators had a preamble to this question telling callers that the letters stand for the Centers for Disease Control and – maybe – an explanation of their mission. Which would skew the results.

In short, the enemies of Americans’ gun rights seem to made inroads with their “gun violence as a public health issue” obfuscation. Is that a problem? Only potentially. While the antis see this rhetorical sleight-of-hand as a way to push civilian disarmament in the interests of public safety, that Americans aren’t buying. When it comes to public health, all health is local. In other words, “gun violence” out there, somewhere, is one thing. Gun violence up close and personal is another.

And when it comes to that kind of gun violence – which is just another name for criminal violence – Americans are inoculating themselves against it by keeping and bearing arms. I refer you to an earlier poll by the far more dependable Gallup organization. In October 2013, Gallup released a poll that revealed Personal Safety Top Reason Americans Own Guns Today.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.56.50 AM

As you can see, 60 percent of respondents listed “Personal Safety/Protection” as the primary reason their own guns. Would a significant percentage of Americans sacrifice their gun rights for public health? I don’t think so. Which means the NSSF poll is both more and less worrying than it seems. Not to coin a phrase, carry on.

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  1. I’d be more worried by these results, except probably 30 percent of Americans don’t know what the phrase “public health” even means…

  2. ” a Republican-favoring research company”

    And there went any credibility whatsoever to the poll. All supporters of our natural rights must have higher standards.

  3. I am not sure getting gun violence re-framed as a public health issue would not be a good thing for gun owners. I do see the potential for exploitation by anti-gunners, but I also see the upside. Dr. Gary Slutkin has founded a group called “Cure Violence,” and one thing that has pleasantly surprised me about it is that it has nothing about it that is against gun manufacture, sales, ownership or carry.

    The idea is that gun violence is a societal disease. That is NOT to say criminals are not responsible for their actions or should not be punished, but it is that interventions with high risk youths can prevent them from becoming criminals.

    Now, I don’t know if his approach works or not, but that’s not the point. My point is that I’d like to provide another conduit for the energies of people who are just concerned about gun violence and not as interested in trampling other people’s rights. I think there are a lot of those people out there and right now they don’t know what to do about it, so the anti-gunners’ arguments may sound appealing. I’d like to give them something else to focus on.

    • Criminal behavior and the violence that comes with it is the problem. It’s “criminal violence,” not “gun violence.” If you want to solve a public health issue then you go after “criminal violence.” Firearms are only one of many tools used by criminals to inflict violence. The guns don’t cause the violence. The criminals do. I will never accept “gun violence” as a meaningful phrase, as guns do not do anything on their own — they have no will, intent, or mobility. They are not and cannot be violent. Criminals can be violent. They can use a gun or basically anything else to inflict their violence.

  4. 5 percent of people believe their own health-care costs will decrease as a result of Obamacare
    7 percent believe the moon landing was faked
    14 percent believe in Bigfoot
    21 percent believe that the government is hiding a UFO that crash-landed in Roswell, N.M.
    29 percent believe aliens exist

    More People Believe Moon Landing Was a Hoax Than That Obamacare Will Lower Healthcare Costs

  5. Democrats are a public health issue. Let’s do something about that first and everything else will right itself!!!

  6. So, you CAN fool some of the people all of the time! I already knew that. And have to agree with Jeremy S, no such thing as “gun violence”. People are the source of violence, not objects.

  7. The problem is that public health tends to apply solutions that assume that people will behave badly. They know that people can’t all be reasoned or scared out of smoking, so they make cigarettes more expensive, hard to buy and socially unacceptable. People refuse to wear seat belts, so we have cars with air bags. X-ray technicians wouldn’t always leave the room during the x-ray, so the button was moved to the wall outside. People like to drink large sodas, so Michael Bloomberg banned large sodas.

    In this environment of protecting people from their own bad instincts, the firearm itself is too tempting for public health types to ignore, so they will seek to remove it. They’ll also try disincentives such as ammo taxes and societal shaming. (What do you think MDA is, if not an exercise in shaming lawful gun owners?)

    The thing they’re overlooking is the personal and societal benefits of lawful gun ownership. (Let’s set aside the 2A for the moment.) DUI, obesity, smoking, flu and other public health targets have no public benefit per se, only costs in lives, morbidity and money. The public health mindset simply doesn’t know how to compute benefits of things it considers “bad.” John Lott has shown them the math, but it doesn’t fit their culture so they ignore it.

    It’s even worse when it comes to suicides — which, as we know, make up about two-thirds of gun-related deaths. Public health focuses on narrowly defined problems, such as obesity or food borne illnesses. “Solving” those problems means one less person sick or dead. Removing firearms from the equation often means that a suicidal person will chose another method. Reducing the spread of flu does not mean that a person will instead choose to get a foodborne illness. In the siloed worldview of public health, suicide with firearms is simply part of the overall problem directly linked to an object.

    The label “gun violence” is a political characterization that demands action, however ineffective or infringing on Constitutional rights. Public health is nothing more than a resource that the anti-2A crowd is attempting to co-opt.

  8. Look this is how this country breaks down and it has been this was since the Revolutionary War:

    30% of the population wants the government to get out of our lives and just protect the country take care of veterans and regulate banking and investments.

    30% of the population wants huge government and wants the government to run their lives and tell them right from wrong.

    30% of the population are pacifists and don’t care who is running the country.

    10% of the population will go where the winners are and suck up the gravy.

    Walter Cronkite the famous news broadcaster was a pacifist and gave Viet Nam war results depending on how the public was leaning……He admitted he was a pacifist in an interview shortly after he retired. Had he admitted that while he was a broadcaster he probably would have lost his job.

    Bottom line this country is filled with a bunch of cowards who have no direction and a serious inability to understand the word HONOR…….thank God for our Veterans. …..Semper fi

  9. Homer Simpson: Aw, you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.

  10. Rigged poll. Is criminal fill in the blank a criminal issue?
    Phrase it that way and you’re guaranteeing 3/4 of the respondents will say it’s criminal.

    You could have gotten favorable, but probably not 88% favorable, results by honestly asking if shootings are a crimal justice issue or a health issue.

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