Poll Review (Week 8)

In lieu of the new PSA video put together by the parents of Sandy Hook victims that promotes gun violence awareness, I choose to analyze a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center on the support for expanded background checks for gun sales.

It’s no secret that America is the world leader in mass shootings.  There have been 186 shootings on school campuses in the U.S. since 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012 according to Everytown For Gun Safety, an advocacy group for victims of gun violence. Despite the alarming increase in gun  related incidents, America has made no strides to restrict the access or gun availability to the public. And yet every time there is a school shooting social media gets in an uproar about stricter gun control. But with all the inaction, does America support a stricter process on gun sales?

My main issue with this question and with the topic of gun regulation as a whole, is that you can be in favor of protecting gun rights and still support controlling gun ownership. This particular question mirrors America’s convoluted theory that more gun regulation means the abolition of firearm usage nationwide.The fact of the matter is, The United States has reported more mass shooting in recorded history than any other country, and also has one of the most lenient stance on gun suppression. At one point in time, slavery was a core value of America, and women didn’t have the right to vote. Evolution  and revolution is happening and yet factions of America are still clinging to the 2nd amendment.  

According to the 2015 poll conducted by Pew Research that followed the failure of the of  the Senate legislation to expand background checks on gun purchases, revealed that a majority of American favor greater policing on gun sales and purchases. The poll questioned 2,002 adults, and found out that 85% of Americans, including large majorities 88% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans, support expanded background checks. This shows an unwavering stance since the last polling in 2013, which followed the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Many question from this poll were straight forward. For instance the question, does gun ownership protect people from crime than risk safety, was asked. Three options, protect from being victims, put safety at risk and don’t know, were given. The poll offered results from 2012, 2014, and 2015. In 2012, 48% of participants believed guns protected people from being victims, 57% in 2014 and 54% in 2015. The poll further broke down this question revealing the demographics of participants who answered this question, further distinguishing between race, gender, levels of educations and party affiliation.

Certain questions of the poll leave much room for interpretation and have the potential to not fully encompass a voter’s opinion and or stance on the issue of gun regulation.  For instance, one question polled two separate groups – those who felt as if protecting gun rights were more important that controlling gun ownership, and those who felt the opposite. My main issue with this question and with the topic of gun regulation as a whole, is that you can be in favor of protecting gun rights and still support controlling gun ownership. Also, this question doesn’t serve any purpose but to show which group favors policy approval over the other. Overall this portion of question, which inquired about support for background checks for gun show and private sales, federal databases and bans on assault weapons, was meant to convey that these group both favored background checks on private sales, but it was done in a manner non conducive to the audience.

The same set of question were asked to those who align with either the Republican or Democrat Party, showing to no surprise that more Democrats favor gun regulation. These results were easier to understand. For one, the group variations were straightforward, and the poll accounted for those who didn’t align with the party as well. It served an effective purpose, providing clarity as to why gun legislation, especially know with the Republican majority has been slow/non-existent.

One question I did find interesting was the one that asked whether participants believed that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has either too much, too little or just the right amount of control over gun laws in this country.  Results were compared to 2002 findings, and showed in three different ways – as a whole, Conservative/Rep Learners, as well well as Democrats. These question clearly detailed party perceptions and incorporated unaligned pollers as well. I was overjoyed for this question because the media often doesn’t cover who owns lobbyist groups and which organizations their power to influence bills and legislation. The NRA is a huge institution with reach and power and not many know that. Even though this poll targeted politically involved citizen the mere publication of this question sheds light in an otherwise dark area.

All in all this poll revealed that for the first time in more than 20 years, a higher percentage (52%) said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership (46%). The balance of opinion whether it is more important to control gun ownership or protect the rights has been more closely divided in recent years. However, this poll has received a lot of criticism from experts and gun control advocates. They called the poll simplistic, misleading and even biased. At times the poll was in fact hard to understand and convoluted with unnecessary facts. Regardless it did shed some light on public and party attitudes related to the matter.

Link to the poll: http://www.people-press.org/2015/08/13/continued-bipartisan-support-for-expanded-background-checks-on-gun-sales/


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