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April 13, 2009

Overlooking the Obvious

The writer of the Book of Matthew in chapter 23, verse 25 scoffs at “You blind guides, that strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” It is certain that the writer did not have in mind today’s news and headline writers, but he certainly could have...

This past week the American news media ran stories about the latest installment of the annual Gallup crime poll. The survey in question was conducted last October—before the recent spate of mass shootings in America. The headlines and TV news intros all blared: “Gun Control Support at an All-Time Low.”

The poll results of 1,011 adults surveyed showed that 29% of Americans favor a law banning the possession of handguns by private citizens. Without explanation, the poll totally disregarded the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2008 that the Second Amendment prohibits such a ban, thereby taking it completely off the table as a policy option. Nonetheless the response to this now irrelevant question was touted by several media outlets as “proof” that Americans don’t support gun control.

A closer look at the Gallup poll, however, reveals something far different. The survey found that 49% of respondents said they want laws on firearms sales to be stricter than they are now. Only 8% said that gun laws should be made less strict.

Let’s look at that ratio again. 49% want stronger gun laws—8% want weaker laws. And again, this was before a horrific series of mass shootings that began in Alabama on March 10.

In what universe is that a ringing endorsement for the gun lobby’s position? Why not carry a headline that states the obvious fact that last fall only 8% of the population supported weakening the nation’s gun laws? Why not stories about how the Congress of the United States is supporting that small minority of 8% over the 49% who want tougher gun laws?

Additionally, a quick look at recent polls commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence demonstrates overwhelming majority support for new laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

This is a friendly reminder that the next time you read a story about the demise of the movement to reduce gun violence, be sure to read the whole story and not swallow the camel.

1 comment:

  1. Let's look at those figures again... 41% think that gun laws should be left alone. Kinda left that part out, didn't you?