The Only Thing Worse Than This Texas Poll on Guns is the Reporting

assault weapons ban semi-automatic firearms

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Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune reports on a recent Texas Statewide Survey. His reporting, and the poll, leave something to be desired. Something like accuracy.

Texans support stricter gun laws, but some ideas are out of bounds, UT/TT poll finds

Let us start with what they really found.

Q28. In general, do you think gun control laws should be made more strict, less strict, or left as they are now?

The poll claims 51% want laws that are more strict. But an examination of the detailed questions and responses indicates that 68% of the respondents apparently don’t even know how strict current laws are.

“Requiring background checks for all gun purchases has overwhelming support in Texas, with 81% of registered voters saying that’s a good idea.”

Survey says:

Q29. Do you support or oppose requiring criminal and mental health background checks on all gun purchases in the United States, including gun shows and for private sales?

That’s the usual misleading question. By separating out “gun shows” and “private sales,” the question implies that all gun show sales lack background checks, whether private or through a licensed dealer.

Now ask the question this way: Should all private sales of firearms require a background check, with a permanent record of the transaction available to the government, and at the expense of the buyer?

“Support for so-called red flag laws, which allow courts to temporarily seize guns from people “determined to be a risk to themselves or others,” have the support of 68% of voters…”

In fact, there is no question regarding “red flag” laws anywhere in that poll. There is this:

Q30. Do you support or oppose allowing courts to require a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others to temporarily surrender guns in their possession?

That question describes existing law, not “red flag” laws. In every “red flag” (extreme risk protective order, et cetera) I have reviewed there are two characteristics which distinguish them from existing laws; a provision for no-due process, ex parte proceedings, and a lack of probable cause.

Usually the identity of the accuser is hidden from the subject of the confiscation order. If the 68% reported as supporting this think they favor a new law, they don’t know enough about existing laws to know they want stricter gun people control laws.

Ah, but if we take the question at face value, and assume the respondents do know the law, the real story is that better than 1 in 5 Texas voters don’t think courts should be taking firearms the way they do now.

Try this question: Do you support or oppose allowing courts to order the confiscation of firearms based on secret proceedings of which the subject is not informed, and based on no probable cause?

The answers might surprise them. If they’re honest.

Here is another another troubling statement from Ramsey which, again, doesn’t reflect an actual poll question.

“Bans on weapons are less popular overall, and the poll responses illustrate the power of that issue in a political campaign.”

The real question is:

Q31. Do you support or oppose banning the sale of selected semi-automatic rifles, often referred to as assault weapons?

First, that only asks about a ban on sales. Ramsey’s initial statement implies people support a ban on the firearms (à la Beto).

Second, the question was limited to “selected semi-automatic rifles” without specifying which ones. A related problem is that, offhand, I can’t recall an “assault weapon” ban which was limited to semi-automatic rifles; generally, they’re limited to neither semi-automatics, nor rifles.

Third, the use of the derogatory term, “assault weapon” has no place in an allegedly objective poll. Instead of implying that the ban would only target nasty things that “assault” people, define them:

Do you support or oppose banning the sale of firearms that accept detachable magazines and vaguely resemble military-style firearms, even if that includes your favorite deer rifle? (The very first rifle I bought specifically for hunting has been listed in nearly every AWB I’ve reviewed.)

I would actually break that question down farther, to include support/opposition of possession, and then of grandfathering possession/sales of existing firearms.

But enough about the laws. The pollsters had to go after the National Rifle Association.

Q42. Please tell us whether you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, neither favorable nor unfavorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable opinion of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

That standalone question is not helpful, unless your intent is to merely spout, Less than half of voters approve of the NRA. Just ignore them like you do your neighbors.

That, too needs some elaboration:

If you view the NRA unfavorably, is it because the NRA does too much for Second Amendment rights, too little, or some other reason?

If you view the NRA favorably, is it because the NRA supports Second Amendment rights, undermines Second Amendment rights, or some other reason?

Maybe the answers to those questions would finally be a wakeup call for the NRA Board of Directors.

Something about the poll’s methodology bothers me. At first glance, it seems good. They use a YouGov panel, in which they’ve selected respondents to represent Texas demographics, as indicated by the Census.

The fact that YouGov’s potential pool is assembled from self-selecting volunteers responding to Google ads could be a problem, but proper demographic matching should counter any pre-selection issues.

But then we have this:

For the survey, YouGov interviewed 1556 Texas registered voters between October 18 and October 27, 2019, who were then matched down to a sample of 1200 to produce the final dataset.

Perhaps a trained statistician can explain why, after the panel was selected to match state demographics, it was then necessary — or even desirable — to then “match down” the group to exclude nearly a quarter of the panel after they polled them.

comments

  1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    What to expect from a budding propagandist/

    1. avatar D.T.O.M. says:

      “…The fact that YouGov’s potential pool is assembled from self-selecting volunteers responding to Google ads could be a problem…”

      This is not COULD be a problem, this IS a problem.

      Like many anti-gun entities, true pro-2A POTG have left google the same way they left Dick’s, Nike, and Shannon Watts; kicked to the curb waiting for the garbage trucks to haul them off.

      Seriously google is the most ‘Darth Sidious’ organization on this planet, undermining conservatives with the promise to spike the 2020 elections to the Democratics.

      They keep records on every user and every search ever done. They track your phone and send the info back to HQ every minute of every day.

      They are helping China to build a surveillance state using among other things A.I., while refusing to aid the U.S. military.

      They even quietly one dark night, dropped their moniker “Don’t be evil” from it’s “Code Of Conduct”. That says it all.

      1. avatar DDay says:

        Also, when the poll is over 40 questions, how many who don’t have an agenda are going to take the time to answer that many questions? Not many.

        I don’t answer polling questions but if I did, there is no way in heck I’d spend that much time answering them. 40 plus questions? I have better things to do with my time.

        And absolutely, when poll is conducted by self selecting, it has zero value in showing anything.

  2. avatar Texheim says:

    Texas Tribune is pure garbage.
    They also reported prop 4 as controversial.

  3. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Polls haven’t been used to learn anything for at least two decades. Polls are purposely designed for press releases, which are designed to shape opinion, not reflect it.

    Creating useable questions for research via polling is tough business. After crafting the perfect question, guaranteed not to be misunderstood (or misleading), you must test the question in-house, with the request…”How can a person screw up answering?” Then re-write the question, and re-test.

    Even with an array of truly unbiased questions (good luck with that), all you get back are what people indicated at the moment they answered the survey. Even the so-called “margin of error” cannot accommodate mischief. Understanding the concept and calculation of “margin of error” is not a small thing, either.

    Most political pollsters count on the respondents, and consumers of polling results, to understand, or care, that a poll is not a trend.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Sam I Am,

      Polls are purposely designed for press releases, which are designed to shape opinion, not reflect it.

      That there is a nice little truth-bomb Sam. You win the Intertubez today!

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “You win the Intertubez today!”

        Blind squirrel moment, I assure you.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Absolutely correct. We all need to learn to respond to any quoted “poll” with the following; “what was the question”? Here, watch this. “Do you think madmen should be prevented from murdering innocent children? Yes or No” Followed by “97% of citizens polled demand tighter gun control!” Yes, it is a flat out lie, but stupid people are influenced by such totally stupid lies. Don’t believe me? Watch the news, after 45 years, Jane Fonda is STILL a gullible moron.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “We all need to learn to respond to any quoted “poll” with the following; “what was the question”?”

        I usually just blankly ask, “Sez who”? Followed by a variation of “What was the question”?

        To frustrate some, I will note, “Hilary was polling to win in a landslide, how’d that work out? Do you know? Do you know how the single correct poll was made correct”?

        Stuff like that.

  4. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    This kind of fakey-do “survey” shows the inherent difference between practical reality and symbolism. People with strong anti-gun sentiments are seldom very well informed about firearms, the 2nd Amendment, or gun owners. They have a shared, collective anxiety concerning guns which focuses on ephemeral symbols like “weapons of war” or “assault guns”. Survey researchers know this quite well. Show someone with this kind of status anxiety the right symbol and they’ll go for it every time.

  5. avatar Prndll says:

    I can’t fault people necessarily for wanting background checks. But that’s not the same thing as ‘universal back ground checks’. Gun stores follow the law and have buyers go through back ground checks (NICS). It isn’t like this doesn’t happen. But you can’t run ANY kind of back ground check on the thief that steals firearms or the gang member that takes them from dead rivals. You also can’t find out how the buyer can’t legally buy when there is nothing put in NICS from doctors, lawyers, police departments, FBI, or the armed services.

    Universal back ground checks suffer the same problems but also make perfectly harmless and normal activity into felonies.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Prndll,

      Universal back ground checks suffer the same problems but also make perfectly harmless and normal activity into felonies.

      You do realize that is the VERY INTENTION of “universal” background checks, don’t you?

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Any form of background check is a de facto assumption of guilt, requiring you to prove your innocence and beg permission before being allowed to exercise your natural right.

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Background check laws are very good at accomplishing what they were designed to accomplish, making acquisition of firearms more complex and expensive. They do precisely nothing about crime.

      1. avatar Prndll says:

        I completely understand and agree with all of you. I’m not advocating any kind of back ground check.

        I’m saying that understand why there are those that want background checks. It’s just that most of these people don’t see any difference with universal background checks.

      2. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “They do precisely nothing about crime.”

        That is a popular conclusion, but what do we really know?

        How many crimes are prevented by any law?

        One can speculate that with overall crime rates falling, laws must be having some effect, but we really cannot know which, or how much.

        1. avatar Prndll says:

          What we really do know is that many of the people who have committed mass shootings (Las Vegas) are individuals that have been green lighted through NICS. There are plenty of documented case. I just don’t have the numbers in front of me at the moment. I’m sure some people might have that. We also know for a fact that there are enough false positives in NICS keeping good people from having something more effective than knives for self protection.

          We know that firearms technology is advancing just like everything else. Just like so many other things, being modular, customizable, and personizable becomes a powerful driving force in the decisions people make for what they buy. This is not a bad thing to criticize people for.

          We know that firearms have been part of the human existence for hundreds of years and will not go away any time soon (regardless of what David Hogg might think). Effective Italian guns were with us before the USA even became a thought in anyones mind.

          Regardless of specific numbers that no one actually knows for sure, we know that there are more firearms in civilian hands in the US than ever before and certainly would give pause to other countries that might try to invade.

          What we know is that the right of the people to have, own, and use firearms is something very specifically spelled out the Constitution. Wanna-be’s like O’Rourke, Warren, and even Clinton do not have the right to take that away.

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Understand your view…..however….

          The “hasn’t prevented a single crime” is a poor argument for eliminating background checks. The statement is too easy to blow up.

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The poll claims 51% want laws that are more strict. But an examination of the detailed questions and responses indicates that 68% of the respondents apparently don’t even know how strict current laws are.

    Newsflash: something like 95% (or more) of politicians DO NOT CARE ONE IOTA whether or not voters know the facts around some subject or controversy. All those politicians care about is getting into office, staying in office, making as much money as possible, and acquiring as much power/prestige as possible.

    I should also mention that something like 50% of our population DOES NOT CARE ONE IOTA about facts, truth, reality, and right-versus-wrong. All those people care about is fantasy, emotion, and their whimsical notion of “virtue”.

    When are we going to acknowledge and start addressing these two simple and astronomically important facts?!?!?

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Not until we discover some way to distribute some uncommon sense?

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    All published surveys yield the results desired by the surveyor, because if the results do not match the desire of the surveyor, the survey will not be published.

    Simple, ain’t it?

  8. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    The maker of some of those questions should be smitten about the head and neck or made to write 10,000 times “There are background checks at guns. Licensed dealers must make inventory reports to ATF”. Maybe until they get carpel tunnel syndrome.

  9. avatar MMurcek says:

    Fence all the urban areas at the city limits. Make them counties in their own rights. Let them have metal detectors at the gates if they want. Bust everyone outside the city limits out of being outvoted by hipsters.

  10. avatar strych9 says:

    An illustration of something I’ve pointed out for years: small amchanges to questions that many people would say are “meaningless” actually change the results enormously.

    Secondly with the “matching down”, there are a few reasons this might be done. Usually, if the pollster is honest, it’s done to exclude oversamples, like a state is 11% black but your random survey got 14% of respondents who were black.

    I would guess this is what they did because YouGov’s normal methodology wouldn’t produce a mirror of state demographics. Even if they changed their methods for this there would still likely be demographic errors in the set.

    This is also sometimes done to exclude certain people who produced an oddball response set. Skipped questions or “I don’t have enough information to answer that” responses type of stuff which you didnt set up your poll to deal with.

    Of course it can be done for dishonest reasons. That’s happened.

    I would say generally, after noting that I don’t have the time right now to look at this particular poll, that in general I don’t like YouGov because they’re pretty cagey about their internals and methods. Rasmussen does the same thing but you can pay like $120 for a year membership to see everything and they’ve always been above board in my experience. YouGov kinda “black boxes” their work unless you’re employed by YouGov and I find that suspicous for obvious reasons. I tried to harangue some internals and methods out of them last year and… well, they were uh, if I’m being charitable, “not forthcoming”. They don’t seem to like being peer reviewed.

  11. avatar GS650G says:

    Ask the same people these questions when there are riots in their city and illegals are everywhere. When a hurricane knocks out power and the phones don’t work. When Liz asks for half your pay for healthcare.

    Go ahead and ask again.

  12. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Polls are like hemroids, a pain in the ass, and not worth a shit. Anyone who believes any poll world by a icecream stand in Antarctica cause they could save money on electricity not needing refrigeration.

  13. avatar Sam Hill says:

    buy… my speller broke

  14. avatar Gene Ralno says:

    Red flag laws were created to dilute power licensed to the psychiatric community and transfer it to unqualified persons more obedient to democrats, e.g., local judges and crotchety old aunts. Due process requires reports from two psychiatrists, one from each side, legal representation, arraignment, indictment and trial by jury.

    Nobody wants criminals to have firearms but to be taken seriously, if the accused is a danger to himself or others, he should be legally arrested. In other words, take the man but leave the guns. The line of inheritance codified in state laws determines the legal custodian of any property. Politicians on both sides who support this notion will regret the day they ever heard of red flag laws.

    Their legacies will carry a Supreme Court scolding and perhaps be the landmark of their careers. Writers, politicians and demonstrators have been hoodwinked by Bloomberg’s rhetoric and haven’t read his 2018 data. It reveals gun homicides declined seven percent, firearm injuries declined 10 percent, fatal child shootings (under 18) declined 12 percent and unintentional shootings plummeted 21 percent.

    None of this hysteria is justified. Since 1991, the murder rate has fallen by 45 percent and the overall violent crime rate has fallen by 48 percent. It’s bizarre that Bloomberg wants to change all that. Since 1999, the statistical probability of a student being killed in school, on any given day by a gun has been one in 614 million. Your odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 300 million. The chances of your child being kidnapped are about one in 300,000. Bloomberg says the nation is in crisis, suffering an epidemic. Folks, there is no crisis, no epidemic.

    Shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the ’90s. Fact is all but three mass shooters in recent history passed background checks. Two stole their rifles. The other one bought from a guy who assembled it from parts and sold it from home. Murders committed by all types of rifles combined, in 2018, dropped by 23.9 percent. According to the FBI, out of 14,123 homicides in 2018, only 297 (2.1%) were committed by rifles.

    During that time, citizens were buying a record number of firearms. In 2018, more than 26 million firearms were purchased, a number exceeded only by 27.5 million in 2016 when purchasers were mortified that Hillary might be elected. Democrats want US citizens to believe making the U.S. safer for criminals will make it safer for their victims. Ask yourself, do you believe being disarmed makes you safer? What kind of political leader would disarm his people while howling about the peril they face?

    These laws have not considered all the possible areas they might harm. For example, what if a crotchety old aunt complained about a blustery nephew who also is a Federal Firearms Licensee and established dealer? What if the nephew is a licensee who operates a pawn shop? What if the nephew stores a neighbor’s firearms because his safe is large enough? What about a nephew whose firearms are stored somewhere else? And so on.

    The Supreme Court isn’t about to jeopardize its own reputation by reducing the ability of private citizens to defend themselves. It’s especially important because currently, half the nation’s murders occur in only 63 counties while the other half are spread across the other 3,081 counties. Said another way, 15 percent had one murder and 54 percent of the nation’s counties had no murders at all.

    Besides, they’re sick of our paralyzed congress creating ambiguous laws that ultimately land in the Supreme Court. They know it’s easy to blame the tools used for murder and to write acts that impede acquisition by peaceable, lawful citizens.

    They know it’s far more difficult to focus on the more complex reality of why incomprehensible murderers do what they do. If something is to be done, perhaps it should be focused on the mental defectives, criminals, terrorists and illegal aliens.

  15. avatar Gene Ralno says:

    Forget the polls. Think for yourself. Universal background laws are again being trumpeted by the democrat party because this may be the last time they enjoy a House majority. But clearly, none of this democrat hoopla is justified and it won’t help them.

    They hope to hoodwink us with Bloomberg’s rhetoric without reading his 2018 data. It reveals gun homicides declined seven percent, firearm injuries declined 10 percent, fatal child shootings (under 18) declined 12 percent and unintentional shootings plummeted 21 percent.

    What they really want is to register transfers between mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors. They’re after inheritances, bequeathals, gifts and sales of inherited collections, however small they are.

    A transfer includes sale, giving, lending, returning, renting, or simply handing a firearm to another person or any action that causes a firearm to be transferred from one law-abiding person to another law-abiding person. The recent addition of “stranger-to-stranger” sales would only be effective if outlaws suddenly began asking the government’s permission to buy guns.

    But amid all this high hysteria, democrats ignore and hope we won’t notice the fact that all the major crime indicators are trending downward. They don’t want to admit that it’s OK for government to do nothing.

    Generally, since 1991, the murder rate has fallen by 45 percent and the overall violent crime rate has fallen by 48 percent. And since 1999, the statistical probability of a student being killed in school, on any given day by a gun has been one in 614 million. Your odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 300 million. The chances of your child being kidnapped are about one in 300,000.

    Bloomberg wants everyone to believe the nation is in crisis, suffering an epidemic but folks, there is no crisis, no epidemic. Generally, shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the ’90s.

    Fact is all but three mass shooters in recent history passed a background check. Two stole their rifles. The other one bought from a guy who assembled it from parts and sold it from home. Long guns are used in less than 2% of firearm homicides.

    A footnote to data from 1998 through 2015 reveals the United States has about 4.6 percent of the world population, but makes up only about 1.1 percent of the mass public shooters over that period. Seems we shouldn’t strive to change that.

    During that time, citizens were buying a record number of firearms. In 2018, more than 26 million requests were submitted to the National Instant Background System, a general indicator of firearms purchased. That number was exceeded only by 27.5 million in 2016 when purchasers were mortified that Hillary might be elected.

    Democrats want US citizens to believe making the U.S. safer for criminals will make it safer for their victims. Ask yourself, do you believe being disarmed makes you safer? What kind of political leader would disarm his people while howling about the peril they face?

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