Thursday, September 17, 2015

CNN Poll Background Check Question Shows Respondents Skeptical

CNN recently released the results of a poll it taken from 4-8 September.   Question 14, shown in the screenshot above, has several hypotheticals that are left up to the responder to self-define.   Here is the question and hypothetical outcomes, from the poll:

If gun control laws were changed so that more comprehensive background checks were in place for all gun purchases, how likely do you think it is that they would: 
Prevent those with mental health problems from buying guns

Prevent convicted criminals from buying guns

Make it harder for law-abiding citizens without mental health problems to buy guns

Included in the undefined hypotheticals, no definition of "more comprehensive" is given.   It is left to the responder to assume the meaning of another hypothetical. Does "all gun sales" really mean "all legal gun sales", or is it the fantasy hypothetical of "all gun sales"?

Trial balloons floating about in the media have suggested that "more comprehensive" would include such things as an hour long interview with a psychologist, and the requirement for five unrelated people to give references, to include answering this question:  "Would you allow this applicant to have a gun alone with your children?"   

The poll question does not ask if the respondent would approve of such a measure or not, merely what the hypothetical effect would be from their self-defined version of the question and responses. 

Significant numbers of the respondents are skeptical of the efficacy of such measures.  If you add the "somewhat likely" and "not at all likely" numbers, 56%  are skeptical that the measures would prevent those with mental health problems from "buying guns", and 58% are skeptical that the measure would prevent criminals from "buying guns".

The phrase "buying guns" is a way to reduce the number of skeptics.   Mentally ill people or criminals do not need to buy guns to commit criminal acts.  Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, was prevented from buying a gun by a background check.  He murdered his mother and stole her guns.  The proper wording to determine what people think of the efficacy of the law would have been "accessing guns" or "obtaining guns" rather than "buying guns".

Polls are used as a way to form public opinion, as much as to measure it.   They are also used to determine the best language to push public opinion in the direction that the media and politicians want it to go.  The reason that the phrase "background checks" is being used to push for more restrictions and records of gun ownership is that disarmists found that people who were not sophisticated in their knowledge of firearms law, accepted the phrase as a gateway to passing intrusive legislation.  When the details of such legislation become known, the popularity of the legislation drops like a rock.   Consider the following questions that were not asked:

Is requiring law abiding citizens to obtain government permission before buying a gun an infringement on Second Amendment rights? 

Should a background check law be structured so as to prevent a government database of gun owners or guns?

The population of Americans that is sophisticated about the word games played in these polls is growing larger and larger. 

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.  Link to Gun Watch

Update: The article has been expanded and updated on 16 September

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