Want To Help Figure Out What People Really Think About Guns? Take A Survey.

Right now I am conducting two online surveys to get a better feel for what and how people think about guns. The surveys can be accessed here and if you have not yet participated, feel free to do so.  The surveys are actually sitting on the Survey Monkey website so I can only see answers to survey questions – there is not the slightest possibility that anyone’s identity can be captured, up to and including the I.P address of your machine.

survey1             I am also beginning to post some of the results of the surveys – they have attracted more than 650 participants to date. As of this morning, respondents to both surveys were residents of 43 and 44 states, so I think the information being received is a valid profile for how gun owners and non-gun owners think. I have also posted some initial results from the two surveys covering the gender and age of participants, with more results to come.

The surveys are designed to elicit information from two groups: (1). People who are involved or interested in gun violence prevention activities; and (2). people who consider guns to be important to them. The surveys are not mutually exclusive – if you are a GVP supporter/activist but also are a gun-nut like me, feel free to take both.

I am conducting these surveys because I have been saying for a long time that we need to find common language and common ground that will enable people on both sides of the gun issue to talk to each other in reasonable and reasoned ways. To do that, we need to know how you folks really think about guns, both pro and con, and we need to understand your thoughts as you really think, not as someone else tells us how you think.

Last week the Pew Research Center released their latest and greatest on how Americans think about guns. It’s a very detailed survey but again and again it asks respondents to answer questions that may or may not have much to do with what they actually think about guns. For example, respondents were asked how they felt about such policies as background checks and banning assault rifles with, of course, the non-gun owners favoring both policies to a greater degree than the folks who own guns. They were also asked about what they thought about gun-free zones. The gun-owners were opposed to it by a margin of two to one. Gee, what a surprise.

I think about my guns all the time – which one do I want to trade, which do I want to shoot today, what’s the next gun I’m going buy – thoughts like that swirl through my head all the time. Know when was the last time I thought about background checks? The last time I was contacted by Pew to answer questions in their poll. And since I’ve never been contacted by Pew, I don’t remember the last time I thought about background checks.

After I get done collecting enough responses to get a fairly good take on the basic demographics of the folks on both sides of the fence, I’m going to put up two more surveys and ask people to respond again. Incidentally, I recruit respondents to these surveys through Facebook promotions but again, I have no idea who is actually answering these promotions and taking the polls. Facebook simply tells me how many people click through the promotion and land on my survey page.

The next two surveys are going to ask gun owners and non-gun owners to tell me the questions which they would like to be asked about guns. And in this way what I hope to accomplish is to let the discussion between the two sides be based on what each side would talk about if they ever found themselves in a reasoned conversation with the other side about guns.

Who knows? Something new and interesting might actually emerge.

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A New Gun Survey Has Some Good News And Some Not So Good News Too.

My job, as I see it, is to deliver the news about guns to the Gun Violence Prevention community.  I’d be happy to deliver the news to Gun-mob Nation as well, but they don’t seem very interested in what I have to say. Or I should say that if Gun-mob Nation is interested, it’s just to tell me that whatever I have to say isn’t what they want to hear. But occasionally I also have to tell my GVP friends some news that they would rather not hear.  But that’s my job.

18d107c334bf4dfdb66f20012db87ef4            And one bit of gun news that might not set well with people who are trying to figure out what to do about this curse called gun violence (and it is a curse) is contained in an AP poll that was published this past week. The poll was conducted by GfK, and what I like about this outfit is they not only announce the results of their polls, they also give you the detailed responses on which the poll results are based. Well, you know what they say – the Devil is in the details, and this poll contains some devilish little details that most of the stories about the poll overlooked.

And the reason these details were overlooked was because the big headline about this survey of 1,000+ Americans was that a strong majority said they were in favor of stronger gun-control laws.  In fact, nearly two-thirds said that gun laws should be made stricter, with only 11% saying that the laws should be loosened, and about one-quarter saying that the laws should be left as they are.

When you drill down to the specifics, the poll continues to register solid majorities in favor of tightening current laws: 73% ware in favor of universal background checks, 53% agree that high-capacity magazines should be banned, 57% say that AR rifles should also be banned and 65% favor criminal penalties for adults who violate Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws.

Obviously the poll results are skewed in the usual way; i.e., Democrats are stronger when it came to stricter laws, Republicans less so.  Women are less pro-gun than men; urbanites and suburbanites favor more controls, rural folks want less.  Not only have these profiles been consistent among all polls that survey gun attitudes, but this poll validated other studies insofar as gun ownership continues to remain at about one-third.  The NRA can talk all it wants about how declining gun ownership is a ‘myth,’ but I’ll give the Fairfax gang credit for being steadfastly consistent in their refusal to face the facts.

As I said earlier, however, this poll also contains some facts that the GVP community  needs to face. By a narrow margin (53 – 44) respondents to this poll favored a national concealed-carry law which would allow armed citizens to move from one state to another with the same reciprocal legal status which now exists for the license that every state issues to drive a car.  But at least all fifty states require a road test before you can drive. How many states impose a real competency test as part of the CCW process? None. Not one.

More worrisome is the response to Question 11: “Do you think that owning a gun does more to protect a person from being a victim of a crime or more to put their safety at risk?”  By a margin of 2 to 1, respondents said that owning a gun would protect them from crime.  Which means that even many non-gun owners believe Gun-mob Nation’s biggest lie, namely, that a gun is more of a benefit than a risk.

I would strongly urge my GVP friends to consider the implications of this last response. Because if nothing else, as long as a majority of Americans believe that a gun is a legitimate way to respond to crime, then Gun-mob Nation will find it much less difficult to prevent any change in gun laws. Which is exactly their plan.