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Friday, February 9, 2018

Annual Christopher Newport University Poll Continues to Push Gun Control

The Christopher Newport University Wason Center for Public Policy released it's annual poll of issues being considered at the General Assembly earlier this week.  While the narrative in the poll is the public overwhelmingly supports gun control, when you dig into the poll, you see that the actual questions asked do not offer a detailed explanation of the issues polled and are simplistic at best.

For instance, while the Wason Center says 84 percent of respondents "support background checks for private gun sales" including "even 76 percent of Republican respondents", the actual question asked was:
  • Q16: There are several bills before the General Assembly related to guns and gun safety. As I describe each one, please tell me if you support or oppose it.
  • A. Making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks:
Absolutely no explanation of what proposals on private gun sales means.  And, the vast majority of sales at gun shows already undergo a background check.  The way this question is asked, it gives the impression to those less informed,  no such checks are performed at gun shows.  Regarding private sales, it is very likely the numbers would have been lower had the poll explained that proposals, and laws in other states related to private sales, don't cover just sales, but "transfers."  A "transfer" includes you loaning a firearm to a spouse or boy/girlfriend,  training class attendee, or a friend at the range. While those pushing such changes in Virginia law learned from the experience in other states and included specific allowances for immediate family or loaning for hunting or target shooting, they still require a background check to be performed on family members beyond immediate family, lifelong friends, and members of your local gun club.

Here's the wording for the so-called "assault weapons" questions.
  • B. A ban on assault-style weapons:
And finally, on the issue of "Constitutional Carry":
  • C. Allow anyone who legally owns a gun to conceal carry without a permit:
Again, no explanation that so-called "assault-style weapons" are simply semi-automatic firearms that shoot no differently than the common hunting rifle or offering additional information like "Vermont currently allows law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, would you support such a policy in Virginia".

Unfortunately, Americans are uninformed on many issues.  Polls with such simplistic questions play right in to that ignorance.  A more reliable poll would take the time to explain the issues being polled.

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