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“Fifty-five percent of Americans say they want laws covering the sale of firearms to be stricter than they are now,” reports, “a distinct rise of eight percentage points from 2014.” The news is sure to hearten Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who’s come out of the gun control closet in the run up to the 2016 election. But all is not what it seems here. For one thing . . .

The poll was conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Umpqua Community College spree killing. Americans typically agree with calls for “stricter firearms sales laws” after a mass shooting, After Newtown, 58 percent of Gallup’s survey-takers were up for “tighter” restrictions on firearms sales. The most recent 55 percent stat is still down three percent from 2012’s stat. And don’t forget: there’s a four percent margin of error.

Needless to say, Democrats and self-identified Independents account for the pro-tighter  gun sales law surge. That said, Gallup reports that “support increased even among those who say they own a handgun, from 30% in 2014 to 36% this year.” I reckon that’s because more people own handguns than ever before, generally. But it’s clear that the gun-owning anti-gunner (a.k.a., “Fudd”) is a thing. Although . . .

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 7-11, 2015, with a random sample of 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

As TTAG readers constantly and rightly point out, a significant portion of telephone respondents are unlikely to “admit” to a phone survey that they own a firearm; which may account for Gallup’s claim that “Overall in the U.S., 43% say they have a gun somewhere in their household, and 28% say they personally own a gun.” See a problem there?

And there’s this: “that event [the Umpqua massacre] seems to have mainly affected Americans’ views about laws on gun sales, but not other topics relating to guns.” To wit:

The percentage of Americans who favor a law providing that only authorized persons (including the police) would be allowed to possess handguns has remained low since the 1990s. This year, 27% — near the record low — say there should be this type of ban. This trend has been generally declining since Gallup began asking this question in 1959, when 60% said such a law should exist.

So yes to guns but also yes to Universal Background Checks? We’ll see how this plays out in the presidential election cycle. Keep your powder dry.

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  1. Did the poll first weed out the people who’ve never purchased a firearm and thus have no clue about the current laws? If not, their opinions about needing “stricter firearms sales laws” are meaningless.

  2. Even if 55% of the U.S. population resided within some blue (D) hell-hole enclave, it would not represent 55% of America, or its values. Guaranteed Gallup polled heavily in the N.E./Chi-com-cago/Seattle/Hollywood.

    Gallup might have been ‘POLLd’ had they attempted to survey someplace else with that question, and the results would have to be surgically removed.

  3. It all depends on the poll question. As a general question, get more support. Ask about specific restrictions, get plummeting support. The former polls feelings; the latter polls ideas.

  4. Polls across all 50 states, with only 1000 people or so polled. In a nation our size, you should do ten times the sample size if you even want to come close to accurate.

    • Not necessarily. There are statistical formulas for determining the correct sample size, which is why there is always a confidence level associated with a poll.

      But there is still the huge issue of asking someone to evaluate strictness when having no knowledge of the laws they’re being asked about. Chip had it right.

      • Lies, damned lies and statistics. Too often when I see people using statistics I think of this phrase. “You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts”

  5. If only 1 person still wanted their Constitutional rights, and the rest not amended the Constitution (and really even if they had), that one person could still be within their Constitutional right to wage war on the rest for their bs. The rest better hope that one person didn’t figure out a way to do it (and are not acting pre-emptively).

  6. Having spent a summer working for a polling company, I have pretty much zero confidence in any polling. So many factors are involved, from the way the question is worded, to the time of day you call a certain time zone to how lazy the pollster is. I also don’t put much stock in a survey of 1000 people that is supposed to represent the opinion of a few hundred million.

    I notice that Politico’s headline for story was carefully worded to be factually correct at least: “More than half of Americans polled want stricter gun sale laws”….they just didn’t say how large or small the polled group was.

  7. It’s a very vague question, allowing for wide personal interpretation of its meaning. A not-too-thoughtful person could easily believe a law is needed to magically ban unidentified lunatics who will eventually commit mass murders from buying guns. Any really useful question needs to be much more specific.

  8. What bothers me is the incredibly low number of people who want less laws. Can we PLEASE get the damn NFA off the books at least?!

  9. Polling just 1000 out of 330 million people is not anything but a waste of time. But they probably would have gotten 100% if they asked if there should be stricter mental health laws.

    • If you asked them, I’ll bet 55% of Americans would say they were in favor of laws against Islam. Nobody’s talking about doing away with your right to worship as you wish.

  10. Emotional inaccurate polling as usual. And “few understand what the “background” check term means. Emotional responses are not rational responses and these small samples do not represent an average of the majority.

  11. People think you can walk into a Walmart and walk out with ten guns as easily as you can buy carrots, possibly because that’s the lie the anti-gun shills keep repeating over and over on every media outlet in existence. If they had any clue of what the actual laws on the books were there would be different results. More importantly, if they saw how “well” the current laws are enforced they would probably say adding to that list of “unenforceables” is not a good idea. My wife could only shake her head when an ex-coworker swore up and down there was no such thing as a concealed carry permit and that people shouldn’t be able to “hide guns when they’re walking around in public”.

    The Founding Fathers used much ink talking about democracy requiring educated citizenry, people that have no clue about a topic shouldn’t be making decisions on that topic. Realistically that’s just a pet-peeve because even if 100% of people polled agreed more gun control was required 0% of those polled would contact their representatives or be willing to apply any political pressure whereas there are millions of people that would rally against more gun control.

    • People think you can walk into a Walmart and walk out with ten guns as easily as you can buy carrots, possibly because that’s the lie the anti-gun shills keep repeating over and over on every media outlet in existence.

      You’re damn right that’s a lie. I don’t have to wait 20 minutes for the pimple-faced teenage worker to find the fat old manager with the keys to the carrot case to waddle over and unlock it so I can inspect the carrot then agree to purchase it. Then I don’t have to wait ANOTHER 20 minutes for them to figure out how to get the electronic version of the ATC (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Carrots) form 4473 working. Which it doesn’t.

      Basically, no, it doesn’t take over an hour to buy a goddamn carrot, but it takes well over that time to buy a .22 rifle at Walmart.

  12. The greatest threat to our freedom is an uninformed electorate. Seems to me we are under siege and most people don’t even realize it.

  13. Wonder what the result would be if the question was prefaced with “knowing that the shooter would have passed a background check in any regime do you support stricter gun laws?”

  14. I’ve never been polled by Gallup. And I do not personally know anyone who has ever been polled by Gallup.
    Therefore, no one has ever been polled by Gallup. Ergo, it’s all made up.

  15. Gallup also says that 50% disapprove of Barack Obama, while 46% approve. I guess that means he has to resign. Wait .. it doesn’t? Then WTF good are polls?

  16. What was, verbatim, the questions asked to the people over the phone?

    There are lots of variables here, too. Like, who the hell still has a landline?

  17. No doubt this “poll” was taken of people in heavily Democratic areas, just by zip code inclusion/exclusion I could easily engineer results to suit any agenda.

  18. Question is so vague that the answers are meaningless. What they are really asking is, “Should gun violence be reduced?” This gets twisted into a desire for stricter gun control when there are no specifics on what those laws would be and how they would actually reduce gun violence. People are hoping for magical laws that will make them safe.

  19. Seems like what the ‘people want’ only seems to be important when its a liberal cause celeb.

    When the Cons try to get what the ‘people want’. Stronger border security, voting ID, etc, than we’re in violation of the constitution and/or clearly racist, sexist, and homophobic (even if the race, sex, and orientation in question is in agreement with us!)

  20. (I am not the above Kyle with the same name)

    I do not believe that most people support stricter gun control laws if they actually had the facts explained to them. The problem is that they do not understand what the gun control being proposed really does. It’s like the large support for “universal background checks.” That’s because most people don’t understand what they actually entail. Or I think the 65% support for an assault weapons ban. Again, because most people do not understand what the law really means.

  21. Firstly the poll has sufficient sample size to be accurate. moreover this question ahs been asked for a couple of decades so the fact that trend is bad is something to be concerned about., Secondly the claim by a commenter about when you ask about specific laws support is lower is incorrect. support “universal background checks” are much higher

    This is all simple. Pew has shown a majority of Americans think gun homicide rate is up the past 22 years when it has plummeted. The same number of people (and likely the same people) who want more gun control are inverting the central metric on the issue due to incessant media hype of every gun incident.

    • I’ll bet support for universal background checks would be much lower if people knew what “universal background checks” actually entails.

  22. A quick warning from your neighbors to the north: don’t give up, do not stop fighting, do not ever think the other side will rest or is satisfied. The poll may even be accurate, so make sure you educate as many people as possible with the truth.

    As for us, it’s going to suck for quite some time to come.

  23. 100% of legal gun owners want you to stop asking.
    100% of legal gun owners want you to be restricted from asking again.
    100% of legal gun owners want you to be stopped from asking stupid questions.
    100% of legal gun owners want you to . . .

  24. I think it is very likely that many people are so ill-informed that they actually believe “Background Checks” are a good idea and do not have a clue about how they really work and what they can and cannot do (like not reliably identify the crazies who are about to commit a mass shooting). People who read and comment on TTAG think and discuss these issues regularly, but most people do not. They only know what they hear in the MSM sound bites and those carefully omit any discussion of the down side and short-comings of “Background Checks” leaving them to infer additional ignorance of the details and issues.
    Pollsters put a lot of science and experience into their methodology to increase accuracy and their results are more reliable than less. But keep in mind a Poll is a snapshot, which is why there are so many of them.
    It’s no surprise that a Poll taken right after an event like UMPQUA would yield these results. Let Hilary Clinton rattle on about new gun laws over the next year and opinions will swing back in favor of less gun control laws as people become concerned they will be unable to provide for their own defense.
    The American public is generally less and less informed and what information they get is controlled by the Left and composed of lies, misdirection and cherry picked “facts”. The Pollster’s results gleaned from a morass of ignorance are probably a better reflection of the depth of the stupidity out there than a measure of what the Polls ostensibly set-out to measure.

  25. Well, there goes Gallup’s reputation- run a poll right after a school shooting where Obama got on the air asking for the media to come up with numbers and made up stories, before the bodies had cooled?

    Gallup’s just become another blood just like Quinniapac’s bogus poll of northeastern liberal voters during the lead up to the 2012 Election “90% of Americans blah blah blah…like 90% of gun stores on the border supply ATFs GunWalking Smuggling Op…oops.

    Journolistas, is the mildest epithet one can apply.

  26. I agree that the legitimate pollsters do things scientifically and use tried and true methods. However, I also agree that pollsters can direct how a poll will go by the questions asked and the demographics chosen. By an large, I usually put little credence in most polls, especially those with political implications. It is a known fact that a poll done at the behest of a given party is going to go that party’s way. I have been asked a time or two to take a poll. The ones that come in the mail with the fill in the circle answers can be aggravating, especially when they ask one of those “Which answer best describes?” type questions. Because to often none of them best describes or best answers. And when the people approach me in the mall I just tell them I do not have time, because again sometimes they are almost forcing you to give an answer even though you don’t want to. So whether the poll is pro or against my beliefs I just don’t want to take them anymore.


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