Imagine the gun control advocates’ distress when the Safeway Massacre didn’t move the needle on public support for more stringent gun laws. The usual suspects assumed a fall-back position: ban the type of high capacity magazine used by Jared Lee Loughner during his attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But you can’t keep a good liberal down, and polls are meant to be broken. Writing for (who else) the Huffington Post, working with the folks at Gallup, Margie Omerta, I mean Omera, managed to do the seemingly impossible: create a mandate for stricter gun laws where none exists. And a clever little Democratic pollster she is too . . .
This Gallup poll reveals the complexity of voters’ views, but also the consistency with which stricter gun laws are central to the discussion of violence. It also confirms what my firm found in this bipartisan poll on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, released last week (and done jointly with Republican firm American Viewpoint).
Using their own words, Americans cite stricter gun laws as the best way to prevent more mass shootings. Gallup asked an open-ended question about what could be done to “prevent mass shootings from occurring in the United States.” Not only was the number one response gun-related (“stricter gun laws”), but almost half (42%) responded in some way about stricter gun laws. Note this does not include “teaching children about proper use of guns” or “allowing people to carry guns for their own protection.”
Never mind the inherent problem of asking for one or two answers (someone who recommended stricter gun laws could double dip and mention background checks). Or the fact that the poll asked “what” could be done not “if” something could be done. Noting that 11 percent of those asked answered “nothing” and 12 percent had “no opinion”. And the fact that 58 percent of respondents didn’t mention stricter gun laws. Here come the caveats!
Gallup also notes that few feel stricter gun laws would have prevented the actual tragedy at Tucson, or, at that time, Virginia Tech. Perhaps, they hypothesize, this is “because of the intense focus in the news media on the accused perpetrator in each tragedy.” Unfortunately this one data point pervaded much of the recent coverage.
So “the people” are smart until they’re mislead by the mainstream media, which, as far as I can tell, has been practically screaming for gun control after the Loughner attack. Anyway, I hope Margie gets paid handsomely. Prevarication is such a gentle art.
This post-Tucson poll reporting–wrongly, in my view [Ed: there’s bias for you]–suggested that despite Tucson, Americans continue to oppose stricter gun laws. In fact, as I wrote last week, for years [What years? When? For how long?] overwhelming majorities [How big a majority? What were the questions asked?] have supported many [But not all?] of the stricter gun laws [Which laws?} actually under discussion [By whom?]. And unaided [What does that mean?], Americans decisively [42 percent?] identify [unspecified] stricter gun laws as the best way [that they can think of when pressed] to prevent future tragedies [which 32 percent believe are not preventable]. One way to learn from Tucson is to truly listen to public opinion.
Amen to that.