You may recall that several months after the Sandy Hook massacre, the New England Journal of Medicine published a survey on attitudes towards gun regulations that was developed by the gun violence research group at The Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Which means, of course, that the survey was designed to promote the gun-grabbing agenda of Mayor Mike.
I’m being a bit sarcastic in what I just wrote because there is simply no way I can hold a conversation or direct anything I write towards a dialog with Gun-nut Nation, because thanks to Street Thug Trump, Gun-Nut Nation is rapidly becoming a haven for the lunatic fringe. And if you want proof of that last statement, I direct you to a missive from a gentleman named Dr. Michael Brown, described on the Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership website as a “pragmatic Libertarian environmentalist,” who writes in detail about what he calls “The Ten Favorite Lies of the Gun Control Lobby,” And Lie #6 just happens to be the findings of the Johns Hopkins survey which found that a majority of gun owners want “more gun control.”
When the Hopkins survey was released back in 2013, attention was riveted on an attempt to get the scope of FBI-NICS background checks expanded to cover secondary (i.e., private) transactions and sales. The bill ultimately went nowhere fast, but the findings from the Hopkins survey were used by Manchin-Toomey supporters to help build their case. In light of the claim by Michael Brown that these findings were nothing more than a lie, I decided to take another look at what the details of that survey really show.
The survey was actually two surveys, one covering gun policies, the other devoted to guns and mental health. I’m going to focus only on the former because this is the part of the survey which has been characterized as a “lie.” The survey was completed by 1,865 respondents, of whom one-third reported that there was a gun in the home. Here are some of the findings:
- Banning purchase of assault weapons: Non-gun owners yes – 75%. Gun owners yes – 46%.
- Confiscation of currently-owned assault weapons: Non-gun owners yes – 63%, Gun owners yes – 37%.
The survey also asked whether a physician whose patient expressed a desire to hurt himself or others should be allowed to contact the NICS system to prevent such individuals from having a gun for a period of six months. Actually, the survey question is slightly confused because NICS covers purchases, not ownership of guns. But the bottom line is that 75% of non-gun owners believed that physicians should be able to intervene in instances where a patient’s access to guns demonstrated a risk. Ready? 72% of gun owners felt the same way. Wow.
The results of this survey are astonishing in terms of what it says about how attitudes of gun owners and often differ from the usual narrative that we get about guns. If nearly four out of ten gun owners agree that assault weapons should be confiscated, if nearly half current gun owners believe that the purchase of assault weapons should be banned, if seven out of ten gun owners think that physicians should have the authority to help prevent at-risk patients from access to guns, then I think it’s time for Gun Violence Prevention advocate to stop worrying about being demonized for wanting to ban certain guns, and it’s time for physicians to drop their concerns about raising valid medical issues that might make them appear to be anti-gun.
It will probably be difficult for the remainder of this campaign cycle to distinguish between the rantings of Gun-nut Nation and what might be in the minds of average folks who happen to own guns. But if things turn out the way they should on November 8th, a serious and substantive gun debate might actually take place. The Hopkins survey clearly indicates that there are reasonable voices on both sides.