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Poll Shocker: “Overwhelming” Support for More Background Checks is Actually Rather Underwhelming

Friday, July 28, 2017

Poll Shocker: “Overwhelming” Support for More Background Checks is Actually Rather Underwhelming

Lacking evidence that gun control restrictions reduce crime or enhance public safety, proponents of such measures seek to justify them by misleading messages, misciting statistics, or pointing to a “groundswell” of popular support, alleging that an overwhelming majority of the general public/gun owners/NRA members/Green Party voters support whatever new restriction it is that’s being proposed. 

One such “faux-tistic” is the claim that 40 percent of firearms sales occur without a background check. Despite this figure having been consistently discredited, it continues to show up in gun control arguments even after the researchers whose study was used as the basis of the claim  rejected it as outdated and unreliable.  

Another mainstay of gun control scripts (Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown, the Brady Campaign, and others) is that over 90 percent of Americans, including the vast majority of gun owners, support background checks for all gun sales. 

Reality tells us a different story. 

More than a year ago, the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a law authorizing voluntary background checks for private gun sales at gun shows. Under the law, State Police officers must be available at every gun show to conduct background checks upon request for private transactions. The police may charge a “reasonable fee” for conducting these checks; in addition, approximately $300,000 in public funding was approved for the purposes of implementing this program. 

Virginians have seen little in the way of results for the expenditure of these substantial public resources.

Since the law was passed, with 77 gun shows across the state, only 54 voluntary background checks in total were requested, most of which occurred within the first six months the law was in effect. Only a single person was denied (apparently due to an outstanding felony arrest warrant) and even this came to nothing: the news reports indicate there were no criminal charges resulting from the denied purchase. In contrast, federally licensed dealers at these shows performed close to 40,000 background checks.  

One may suppose that cost was a prohibiting factor, but the fee for the private background check was a modest two dollars. A more plausible explanation for the shortfall between the touted support for enhanced background checks and what actually happened is that the support just isn’t there.      

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) explored this possibility in its own poll, which asked a more nuanced question. This first explained that most gun show sales involve licensed dealers who are already required to conduct background checks under federal law, and then asked whether the person agreed or disagreed that additional laws, including enhanced background checks, were necessary for gun show sales. 

When the issue was presented in context, the support for increased background checks was less than half of what is claimed by various gun control groups, and nowhere near an overwhelming majority of those polled. The majority (53 percent) of those taking part in the NSSF survey agreed that more restrictions were not necessary.  These results are further bolstered by results at the ballot box, where restrictive background check laws have seen nowhere near the 90 percent support claimed by gun control supporters.  Despite spending many millions of dollars on background check campaigns in Maine and Nevada last year, Bloomberg’s Everytown not only failed to approach their claimed 90 percent support, their measure was defeated in Maine and succeeded on the narrowest of margins in Nevada only to later be found unenforceable by the FBI and Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt.     

Anti-gun groups have claimed for years that their “research” shows their so-called “common sense gun safety laws” will reduce violent crime, that expanding right-to-carry laws will lead to someplace called the “Wild, Wild West,” and that gun shows are a major source of guns for criminals and other prohibited persons. When the same disingenuous gun control groups point to the “overwhelming support” for increased restrictions and bans, and use this to dismiss the NRA’s opposition to their proposals as somehow out of touch with mainstream America, it’s obvious an “overwhelming” dose of skepticism is called for. 

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Washington: Another Year – Another Extreme Gun Ban!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Washington: Another Year – Another Extreme Gun Ban!

The legislature only just gaveled in this week and anti-gun legislators and gun control groups couldn’t wait to reintroduce their extreme gun ban legislation - an "assault weapons" ban, Senate Bill 5217.

Washington:  The Hits Keep on Coming as Magazine Ban Pulled to the Senate Floor

Friday, January 14, 2022

Washington: The Hits Keep on Coming as Magazine Ban Pulled to the Senate Floor

On Friday, the Washington Senate pulled magazine ban legislation, Senate Bill 5078 to the Senate Floor where it is eligible for a vote for passage.

What You Need to Know about ATF’s New eForms System

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Monday, January 10, 2022

What You Need to Know about ATF’s New eForms System

On December 23, ATF launched a new system for applicants to complete various forms that ATF is responsible for administrating. For most gun owners, this change will primarily impact how applications for firearms regulated under ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Indiana: House Passes Lawful Carry, Sends To Senate

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Indiana: House Passes Lawful Carry, Sends To Senate

Yesterday, the House voted 64-29 to pass House Bill 1077, the lawful carry bill. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

Alabama: Sheriff’s Association Working With Anti-Gun Group Opposing Constitutional Carry

Monday, January 17, 2022

Alabama: Sheriff’s Association Working With Anti-Gun Group Opposing Constitutional Carry

Bobby Timmons, director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association (ASA), is so opposed to acknowledging your inherent right-to-carry, and wants so badly to protect the revenue stream from permit fees, that he openly opposes the Second ...

Canada, Six Months from “Confiscation Day”

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Monday, November 8, 2021

Canada, Six Months from “Confiscation Day”

In early 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his so-called “assault weapon” ban along with a temporary amnesty period that allows the owners of newly-banned firearms to possess their property without incurring criminal liability. Canadians affected ...

Wisconsin: Senate Committee Passes Constitutional Carry

Friday, January 14, 2022

Wisconsin: Senate Committee Passes Constitutional Carry

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry voted to pass Senate Bill 619, the constitutional carry bill. It is now eligible for floor debate in the full Senate.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Maine: Judiciary Committee Rejects Gun Confiscation Measure

Friday, January 14, 2022

Maine: Judiciary Committee Rejects Gun Confiscation Measure

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee held a work session on gun confiscation legislation carried over from last year.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.