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Yale researcher Benjamin Miller (courtesy

According to thetrace.org41% of Americans Think the United States Already Has Universal Gun Background Checks, Survey Shows And 100 percent of them are wrong. What Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop propagators don’t tell you: the new survey concludes that 71 percent of respondents favor “universal background checks.” Not the endlessly quoted figure — mooted by Quinnipiac University and cited again here by The Trace — of  “90 percent.” Funny how they left that out. But hats off to the hired hoplophobes for highlighting the fact that . . .

your average American has a better idea of how many men walked on the moon (12) than what the term “universal background checks” means. Which makes any cogent analysis of Americans’ views on “universal background checks” completely unreliable. Like this:

[Yale researchers Peter Aronow, assistant professor of political science, and Benjamin Miller, above, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science] found that among Americans who strongly favor universal background checks and know that the government does not mandate them, 89 percent support stricter gun laws. But among a second group who favor universal background checks and believe such a mandate is already in place, support for stricter gun laws dips to 74 percent.

Only 47 percent of those surveyed knew that a background check is not required for many sales and transfers by private, unlicensed parties, while 12 percent believed that background checks aren’t required for any firearm purchases.

Here’s a question: what was the question? With such conflicting results, we really need to know the exact wording used by the survey takers. Did they use the words “many sales” in the question? If so, that’s a problem in and of itself.

According to the researchers’ article in The Lancet — which does not link to the study — the Yalies responsible say they “undertook a nationally representative survey through [Harvard University’s] 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.”

So the questions were tacked onto a larger survey, whose results are now two years old. More to the point, the raw data for 2014 isn’t on Harvard’s website. So we don’t who was asked what or when. But we sure know why [via] . . .

We’re considering performing an experiment. We have this correlational finding that, among the people who strongly favor universal background checks, knowing that they don’t currently exist is predictive of support for stricter gun laws. That’s not necessarily a causal finding. So what we want to do now is a survey experiment where we inform people about the current laws — the existence of the gun show loophole and the Internet loophole — and see if that causes people to be more in favor of stricter gun laws.

“Gun show loophole.” “Internet loophole.” No bias there. [/sarc] Here’s better, not-to-say more accurate news . . .

Miller and Aronow’s research also corroborated evidence of an “activism gap” among proponents of gun restrictions. Despite earlier polling showing that more than half of Americans support new gun restrictions, people who oppose such regulation are more likely to be politically active on the issue or base their vote on gun rights. Miller and Aronow found that among respondents who thought gun laws should be less strict, 71 percent said they would never vote for a candidate who didn’t share their views on gun control. Only 34 percent of the respondents who supported stricter gun measures said the same thing.

And that, my friends, is why we’re winning. At least at the polls. In some places. Here’s hoping gun voters’ extra juice helps elect a Republican (i.e. pro-gun right) president. Again.

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  1. We really need Obama to accept Wayne’s invitation to debate. It should be mandatory viewing for every American.

    • When Obama is term-limited out of office and is collecting $200,000.00 speaking fee for each appearance he will be willing to accept a public debate with LaPierre. Cash only.

    • Exactly. Because as a matter of law there is no such thing as a ” loophole”. A thing or an act is either legal or illegal, period. There is no grey in law and there are no loopholes in law. Anything anyone describes a legal loophole should be immediately translated in your head to “completely 100% legal”.

        • Actually, there are loopholes in the law. These are areas in a statute that are not addressed, but probably should have been. For instance, a law restricting ammunition production to .22 calibre, is not the same as a law restricting ammunition production to nothing larger than .22. In the first case, .223 ammunition would be allowed because it was not specifically excluded by stating “larger than .22”. This example would present a loophole for producing .223 ammunition. In the second case, no ammunition larger than .22 would be permitted.

          The “loophole” that aggravates the anti-gun crowd is that state laws specifically permit the private transfer/sale of firearms between citizens resident in the same state. Such laws specifically identify the condition, which is not truly a “loophole”. But any thing that happens that someone doesn’t like because they thought “there should be a law” is generally considered a “loophole”. So, for gun-grabbers, the actual provision in law for private transfers between residents in a state is something they don’t like, thus it is a “loophole”….meaning people can legally do something the gun-grabbers don’t like.

        • Of course .22LR ammunition would also be restricted by such a law, since it uses bullets that are .223 inches in diameter.

    • Agreed. “loophole” has become a word to trigger an negative emotional response push individual to support a ideological stand. Because of it’s current usage it should be a red flag to look deeper into an issue.

      Same with the current usage of “Common Sense”. A warning sign that the argument is based on triggering a emotional response not a rational, logical response.

  2. The confusion is predictable among the average person in this country. The anti-gun groups can’t even get their own lies straight and the news media is even worse. Moronic, uneducated voters are the current norm in the US of A.

    Side note: 71% is still too high. See Washington State with 59.6% for UBC’s and all the baggage that goes with that vote; like pro gun groups being outspent 8:1, overlapping votes for the pro gun proposition and the Seattle dominated voter bloc.

  3. What interesting questions. It’s not surprising that a huge majority of people are in favor of magical, perfect, free “universal background checks.” People like unicorns too. What background checks, exactly, implemented how?

    What about imperfect, costly, slow, ineffective, “background checks” that require assembling (another copy of) profile information on everyone in the country to check against?

    I wonder what the percentage is if the question goes: “Are you in favor of creating and enforcing a ‘no guns for you’ list, similar to the federal ‘no fly-list’ – who knows what’s in it, there’s no evidence it does any good, nobody knows how you get on, or how to get off (other than being a sitting US Senator?)

  4. Background checks wouldn’t be performed by the criminals selling or passing guns on to other criminals. We really need to stop straw purchases and other means of trafficking guns.

      • There is NO WAR on drugs. For every dollar spent on the “drug war”, law enforcement makes four. it’s a cash cow.

    • But…but…They’re universal….

      And, in other news, 85% of publicly indoctrinated drones are in favor of the government spying on their neighbor. For safety and, like, stuff….

    • “We really need to stop straw purchases and other means of trafficking guns.”

      Better talk to Obama and the BATF on that one, they do it more than anyone.

    • We really need to stop straw purchases and other means of trafficking guns.
      I really thought the movie The Lord Of War sort of covered this rather well towards the end of the show.
      You may want to thump the US Government on this one. They make everyone else look like a bunch of kids running a Kool-Aid stand.

  5. He is a phd candidate! and based on his research probably sociology or some such nonsense. As some like to say PHD pile it higher and deeper. With respect to those in hard sciences.

  6. These polls are less than worthless. All they do is feed the fantasies of trolls like 2asux. My civil rights are not subject to poll numbers.

    • 2asux is on our side. If you are referring to that comment thread in a previous TTAG entry then it went way over your head proving his point about how we go off half-cocked like anti-gunners do.

    • Can someone explain how any of this matters? Because last time I checked our rights weren’t subject in any way to the outcome of any poll.

  7. If you use terms like “gun show loophole”, “Internet loophole”, or even “assault weapon” in academic studies, then you’re ipso facto not a legitimate researcher. You’re some version of highly credentialed dilettante or radical activist masquerading as a scientist. Howsoever, you ought to be ashamed of yourself and you’re no one to be taken seriously.

    • Exactamundo. “Assault weapon” is such an elastic term as to be, for any non-deceptive purpose, meaningless.

  8. “But hats off to the hired hoplophobes for highlighting the fact that . . .

    your average American has a better idea of how many men walked on the moon (12) than what the term “universal background checks” means. Which makes any cogent analysis of Americans’ views on “universal background checks” completely unreliable.”

    That’s a real problem for surveys.

    I’m still waiting for a more comprehensive survey model that measures the knowledge the respondent has about the subject of the survey, and weights the survey answers based on the knowledge results.

    But even with such a change, I agree with Chip in Florida: “Because last time I checked our rights weren’t subject in any way to the outcome of any poll.” (Except, I suppose, those very large “polls” we call “elections”…)

  9. Winning ?

    Limiting the issue to last 1/4 of the article, of the respondants (!) who are activists opposed to gun control, 71% said they would never vote for someone who did not agree with their views. That is not a “victory”. The result should have been near-100%… and even that is skewed because we do not know how many people were polled. BTW, trumpeting a segment of the polled population and declaring victory is the same mechanism reviled by climate-change deniers, regarding the claim by climate protectors that climate change is a settled matter. That claim is based on a subset of scientists polled vs. the actual number of climate scientists existing.

    Using RF’s method of claiming victory, then 77% of respondents support UBC, that is not a win for the gun culture. All in all, we are faced with the same truth….the country is about evenly divided about private ownership of guns.

    DISCLAIMER: Everyone engaged on this posting is working from incomplete information, including me !

    • HOWEVER…if the overall numbers are split fairly evenly between both sides (even if your side is behind by a fair bit), then having 71% of your group dedicated to voting their beliefs on your issue gives you a powerful boost.

      But you’re right about incomplete information. We don’t really know what percentage of dedicated issue-voters the other side has, and this crappy poll doesn’t give us reliable info about our side, either. And the two-party system papers over those enthusiasm gaps; even if hardly any voters really care about enacting restrictive gun laws, if enough of them vote (for whatever reason) for the party that’s rabidly anti-gun, the effect is the same.

  10. We are definitely NOT winning the war on information and public knowledge about guns and gun rights as long as most Americans accept the existence of background check “loopholes”, “assault weapons” and similar propagandized terms. We are losing the propaganda war, rather badly.

    If the 71% support UBC’s figure quoted is anywhere near accurate, that’s not a win either.

    These “polls” conducted out of the Leftist controlled Universities are not designed or executed correctly (un-biased questions, true random sampling) because, they don’t dare risk finding anything remotely pro Second Amendment.

    The only value these gun rights related polls have is to give the anti-gun people and biased mainstream media more unreliable “statistics” to quote to an ignorant and already confused general public.

  11. your average American has a better idea of how many men walked on the moon (12) than what the term “universal background checks” means. Which makes any cogent analysis of Americans’ views on “universal background checks” completely unreliable.

    Which is why ignorant people who have no idea what they are talking about when being polled on government policy topics results in meaningless GIGO, garbage in and garbage out data results.
    Of course with the Libtards, this is a feature and not a bug.

  12. What internet loophole? I have never purchased a gun online from a FFL or private individual without a background check. In state private transfers still require a background check. Where’s the loophole?’

    • The internet loophole is real. It is possible to advertise WTB/WTS (want to buy/want to sell) a firearm. Eventually, either the ad, or an exchange between parties will get down to “face-to-face only” as a term for the sale. Instructions will be provided to “meet me at/in”. The transaction will be a “cash only” proposition. While there are risks (Craigslist type murders, or undercover cop), the ads do appear regularly. With person-to-person sales, there will be no background check. There will be no means (or interest it) ensuring one or both parties are not prohibited persons. Apparently, according to respectable sources like Bloomberg, MDA, major mainline news outlets, etc, these transactions are done by the thousands every day.

      • One correction: in most of the US, an undercover cop (or any kind of cop) is no risk at all, because it’s perfectly legal for one individual to sell his own personally owned gun to any other non-prohibited individual.

        I like to call this the yard-sale loophole. It’s the same loophole that lets me sell literally any given thing in my house to anyone who’s willing to buy it.

        • Yard sale loophole is also a good descriptor. Difference is the federal law requires private sellers to “have no reason to believe…” the buyer is a prohibited person. There’s the risk. A sting could easily result in an arrest, with the LEO claiming the seller/buyer made no effort to determine eligibility of the LEO, allowing no “reasonable” determination that a prohibited person might be involved. At trial, the jury would be asked if a “reasonable person” would sell a gun to a total stranger without any attempt whatsoever, to determine if the other transactor was a prohibited person. Most juries are made up of “reasonable people” who see no legitimate purpose for someone to own/buy/sell a gun. Taking into account their own “reasonableness”, jurors would find it reckless for someone to just transfer a gun with an unknown person.

      • There is no way to buy a new firearm or any firearm from a dealer without running a background check. Private property between two individuals is allowed to be transferred freely, but it’s still a felony to sell a firearm to a restricted individual. There is no way for a restricted individual to legally obtain a firearm. The problem then comes to enforcement, which raises the question, why aren’t people that fail the NICS check prosecuted? If we know restricted individuals are trying to purchase firearms why is nothing done? Expanding a system that lists people that were denied and will not be prosecuted just means there are potentially more people that would have zero consequences. So is it worth it to remove a right in order to have no positive effect? On top of that the untraceable transfers are still untraceable, the only way to end that would be the implement a National Registry, which is expressly forbidden. There are lot of issues that come up around this topic, but the main issue is lax enforcement and prosecution. Nothing gets under my skin like a solution that has nothing to do with the problem.

        • why aren’t people that fail the NICS check prosecuted?
          Because the vast majority are false positive and the gun control goon squads know this.
          I had a friend who was rejected on false positive.
          A few days later, he passed.
          Go figure.

        • When government wants to restrict individual freedoms, it is a popular tactic to fail at whatever mandate that agency wants to strengthen. So, it is entirely possible that few prohibited buyers are prosecuted so as to build a case for more resources. In the matter of guns, an agency might use lack of prosecutions as proof that without a national registry, background checks are doomed to failure. The government knows that the terror watch lists are shaky, at best, but merging with NICS will prove a simple, single registry of gun owners is the only way to ensure public safety. Never assume government failures are as simple as they appear in the news. Government agencies are always plotting means of enforcing universal compliance. When they want to regulate, they issue regulations designed to prohibit whatever actions they don’t like. And it drives them completely around the bend when citizens simply abandon the activity. Government’s view of life is that if your activity is regulated, then you must continue that activity in order to be regulated. They have real trouble with real world thinking. Note the migrations of wealth that happen when some states jack up taxes on things.

      • A private sale is not a “loophole”. It is explicitly lawful.

        Whether the private parties involved knew each other prior to the sale, or were strangers, is irrelevant. Whether the private parties learned of the suppky/demand for a private sale via word of mouth, internet forum, facebook post, newspaper classified ad, a bulletin board on a wall, a poster on a telephone pole, or smoke signal is irrelevant.

        There is no loophole. Private sales do not require a BGC or other intervention by FFL. And laws regarding interstate sales do not exclude sales based on their origin (e.g. “internet” sales).

        • As noted in an early response, “loophole” means anything that is not regulated the way I want. I did address the fact that private sales are actually written into the law. For this string, I used “loophole” in its commonly accepted usage. In the case of the “internet loophole”, the law does not specifically prevent the internet offering of a gun buy/sale that might be between people in different states, people who would otherwise be prohibited persons. The fact that the specific transaction is not detailed in the law is a “loophole” for most people. This is because if the specific activity is not addressed in indisputable detail, there is wiggle room for a really good lawyer to win on “a technicality”.

  13. What do the polls say when the question of UBCs is asked in a way that reveals the inevitable National Gun REGISTRATION that must exist in order to implement UBCs?

    Some how, I suspect “Are you in favor of the Federal Government maintaining a National Gun Registration database storing the name and address of the owner of every firearm in the United States of America?” would not fare nearly as well as the gun-haters might like.

  14. “71 percent of respondents favor ‘universal background checks.'”

    In other news, 71% of respondents are completely unaware that the Constitution exists or what it says.

  15. Was this another landline phone call poll at 1:30 pm? They know exactly who still has a landline and the ability to pick up the phone at 1:30 pm, people that don’t know anything about anything.

    I guess the gun-control crowd has added a new play to the playbook. Move over Australia and the UK, in three days I’ve seen Switzerland mentioned four times as the shining example the US needs to embrace. That means full government control of weapons, ammunition (including handing it out), ranges, and mandatory military service. These people don’t seem to get it even when it is pointed out the Swiss system is not legal in the US and could never happen.

    This is why we can’t compromise, the other side doesn’t know the first thing about the topic. It would be like compromising with a three-year old and ending up with cotton candy and ice-cream for dinner as long as the play room is cleaned.

  16. Don’t apply for a concealed carry license in Illinois if you’re concerned about universal background checks. NRA contract lobbyist for IL Todd Vandermyde let the anti-gunners in the state legislature slip a teeny little privacy waiver into Rep. Brandon Phelps HB183 “NRA backed” carry bill in 2013:

    “a waiver of the applicant’s privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges under ALL federal and state laws, including those limiting access to juvenile court, criminal justice, psychological, or psychiatric records or records relating to any institutionalization of the applicant…” Thanks Todd!

    More great work from the team of retards at ISRA & NRA who brought you Duty to Inform. Vandermyde understands his voter base. The privacy waiver is in the statute, not the application. How many of the ignorant hicks from southern IL who give their cig money to NRA actually read the statute (or know how to read without moving their lips?)

    Sign an IL concealed carry application and sign your life away forever. The IL State Police can snoop into any records they want, retain them forever, and share them with the feds. Yes Richard Pearson of ISRA is that stupid, and Vandermyde is a rat who sells out the people he is supposed to work for. Then again Vandermyde put Duty to Inform in the NRA carry bill because the anti-gun Chiefs of Police wanted it, so it’s no surprise that he would sell out to the l police unions with the privacy waiver too.
    Call up Chris Cox & Chuck Cunningham at NRA-ILA and give Vandermyde a bonus!

  17. Funny it’s OK for a Constitutionally recognized Right to bear arms can require background checks and waiting periods but proving who you are to vote is racist sexist and classist. Without the right to bear arms the voting thing will go out the window.

    • People are allowed to vote without proof they are eligible because it is a “God-given, natural, civil right…” to be able to vote in a democracy. Besides, if no one is required proof of eligibility it is easier to stack the voter roles.

      And if there is no RTKBA, voter fraud and government tyranny are facilitated.

      Perfect storm

    • Just to clarify, there is no natural law let alone Constitutional protected right to voting in a Federal election. There are some State Constitutions that do explicitly say there is a right to vote however.

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