Today NPR and Ipsos released the results of a KnowledgePanel poll of 1,022 adults who own at least one gun. It was conducted from June 15 to 21 in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.
There are a number of interesting findings, but here I want to highlight just two of them.
In light of my recent argument that we should retire the NRA slogan, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” I was interested to see gun owners split pretty evenly on whether they agree with the statement. 51% of all gun owners agree with the statement, but as the survey shows for various beliefs and attitudes, there is a stark partisan divide: fully 69% of Republican gun owners agree, but only 19% of Democrat gun owners, with Independent gun owners leaning more toward the Democrat side than the Republican, with 44% agreeing.
The other finding I took note of doesn’t have to do with “good guys with guns,” but rather earns my FALSE CHOICE AWARD.
The NPR/Ipsos poll asked gun owners, “Do you think it is more important to protect gun rights or control gun violence?” Sooooooo, BOTH is not an option? Don’t tell the Liberal Gun Owners this because they have developed the concept of “simultaneous proponency” that encompasses both.
This is a classic example of what (I believe it was) religion scholar Mircea Eliade said, “the scale creates the phenomenon.” The belief/attitude that you have to choose between protecting gun rights or controlling gun violence would seem to exist largely in the minds of whoever consulted with NPR/Ipsos on this survey instrument.
If you’re thinking of putting together a survey of gun owners, please let me know. I am happy to consult and my rates are competitive.
7 thoughts on “Gun Owners’ Views of “Good Guys with Guns””
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The old false dichotomy, aka false dilemma, problem. But works nicely when engaging the false simplification solution.
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It’s like the old beer commercials: Tastes Great! Less Filling!
Mohr Gunz! Less Gunz!
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This survey highlights some of the differences between your ‘Gun Culture 1.0’ vs. ‘2.0’.
I have certain concerns about the methodology, however.
Results were weighted for metropolitan status, yet the geographic composition of the gun-owning population does not reflect the general population’s. This would lead to oversampling of primarily handgun owners unfamiliar with long guns and their many uses. (Note Q3, “I own firearms to manage pests on my property.”) As Q5 shows, only 8% of Democrats (heavily urban/suburban) surveyed own ARs, less than half own any type of long gun.
As 2 1/2 times more Democrats than Republicans were surveyed, weighting by party ID would severely skew the ’total gun owner’ results, considering Pew found 41% of Republicans own guns vs. 16% of Democrats.
The phrasing of certain questions not only reflects the surveyors’ biases, but is also potentially leading, When forced to respond to “The *only* way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”, those who concur with your reformulation, ‘*one* way is’, would nevertheless tend to agree.
Q9, asking about “universal background checks for all gun sales, including those at private sales and at gun shows”, is misleading on two counts. First, background checks already are required at gun shows. Second, calls for universal background checks are typically predicated on establishing a national firearms registry, which most gun owners oppose. (Further, anecdotally, gun owners I’ve spoken with do not believe private transactions between friends or family should require background checks, although many current bills call for just that.)
For Q10, ”people like me do not need to own AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles”, it would have been interesting to follow-up with “no one needs an AR-15”, a common belief among anti-gun activists. (Although this sentiment is perhaps reflected in the 84% of Democrat gun-owners who’d like to ban AR-15s.)
Interestingly, one question, based on a common stereotype, had a failure to feed: “I own firearms because they give me a feeling of power” garnered only a 7% agreement.
When I was taking statistic and survey design courses for my PhD that was one of the things that was stressed. What questions and how they were presented could easily bias the results of the survey. This is also b=very true in the design of test instruments. A reliable researcher will make sure as much as possible that this type of bias is eliminated in their instruments but too offer the research I read is poorly done and one gets the impression that it was constructed to reinforce the bias.
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When I worked in market research, the joke ran, ‘we’ll either get you the answer, or get you the answer you want.’
Even absolutists rob Peter to pay Paul. They just delude themselves about it. if they don’t do it with one thing, they do it with another. Prioritizing, sharing concern over multiple issues, focusing on one thing during one phase, another thing during the next phase, two things at the same time…the way that most humans deal with phenomena is more like a bunch of towels tumbling around in the dryer. Principled people do this as well. How about less bullshit with neat graphs? Maybe not ZERO bullshit with neat graphs…because we know that’s not going to happen…but just LESS? 🙂