By Larry Keane
Media headlines heralded “Americans Want Stricter Gun Laws!” based off a recently released poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. But a close reading of the data, including quotes from respondents within, demonstrate that’s not actually the case.
The new survey by AP-NORC suggests U.S. adults want to see stronger gun laws. According to the poll, 71 percent of respondents prefer “stricter gun laws,” but it doesn’t go on to say what “stricter” entails. Demonstrating the severe flaws in the survey’s headline and the media’s obvious inability to critically analyze the report instead of just reporting as gospel truth, is that the survey says, “Three-fourths of Americans view gun violence as a major problem, and 8 in 10 say gun violence is on the rise in the United States…Many Americans…want to both prevent gun violence and protect gun rights. In particular, 52% say it is both very important to prevent mass shootings and very important to ensure people are able to own guns for personal protection.”
Case in point are the several largest cities across the country, which are all run by Democratic mayors who already implement strict gun control policies, where crime is rampant and city residents are fleeing in droves. The above-the-fold headlines proclaiming “Americans Want Criminals Held Accountable!” are nowhere to be found.
Responders On Record
Despite the topline suggestion, on-the-record respondents included in the AP-NORC report actually stated why they don’t support various policies or more restrictions on guns. One specific policy NORC asked respondents about was a nationwide ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles, or AR-15-style firearms. Less than 60 percent support that policy, according to NORC.
A recent Reload.com report showed that support for a ban on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRS) reached a new low, below 50 percent, right as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a partisan bill to ban them. It will not receive a vote in the U.S. Senate. NSSF industry data shows since 1990 there are now more than 24.4 million MSRs in circulation as of 2020. That figure includes more than 4.5 million since 2018.
From the NORC report, respondent Nicole Whitelaw, a 29-year-old Democrat and gun owner, said proposals like banning AR-15s “goes too far, and may not solve the problem.”
Also quoted was Chris Boylan, a 47-year-old teacher from Indianapolis. He said, “gun violence is a major problem…and believes the issue is more about mental health and a too-lenient criminal justice system.” Boylan added, “Blaming the gun is an oversimplification of what the issues really are. It’s not the gun.”
Reality vs. Fantasy
As much as gun control advocacy groups, and a sympathetic media, would prefer, Americans aren’t buying more gun control. They’re buying more firearms and doing so in record numbers.
Poll after poll has shown Americans rejecting pushes for more gun control and more than 1 million National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications for the purchase of a gun have been processed for 34 months and counting. That includes more than 14 million first-time gun owners since 2020 and included the most diverse population of gun buyers ever.
A NORC survey from April declared surprise that minority Americans, including African, Hispanic and Asian Americans, would be concerned about crime and their safety. “We found that their [People of Color] views align really well with other gun owners even though demographically they’re so different,” said NORC senior fellow John Roman. Firearm industry retailer data has shown minorities are legally buying firearms in record numbers, with African American women leading the way. Even the media has taken notice and reported on the new face of the American gun owner.
Over the past two and a half years, background checks for the sale of a firearm have been higher even in Blue states with strict gun control like California and New York. Despite what misleading headlines appear to suggest, law-abiding Americans have acted the opposite.
Most importantly, the Second Amendment doesn’t disappear no matter what polling says.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.
is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.