Saturday, April 11, 2009

Paul Helmke on the Gallup Poll

Paul Helmke wrote a fascinating piece which was cross-posted on his Brady Blog and the well known Huffington Post. It was an expose' of sorts about the latest Gallup Poll which supposedly showed a decrease in support for gun control.

This polling information was collected last October, which Gallup does mention in its third paragraph. Yet it certainly begs the question: Why publish a statement based on data that is almost six months old, in the wake of a string of mass shootings committed over the past month?

The pressures of getting into the news cycle are powerful, but the important question is what Americans believe about gun violence prevention policy today.

What's even more disturbing is for Gallup to ask Americans whether or not they support a total ban on handguns when that policy has not been pursued nationwide in years and totally ignores the current debate on gun violence prevention.

It seems the Gallup Poll, that inviolate bastion of truth all Americans respect, is just another mouthpiece for the gun lobby. What else could explain the terrible discrepancies Paul pointed out?

The Bradys, meanwhile, conducted their own survey. Not surprising, very different results were achieved.

For example, the Brady Campaign commissioned a survey of 1,083 people who voted on Election Day last year to find out their attitudes on a handful of gun law proposals. The results showed:

83% of voters support requiring background checks for all gun sales in this country;

68% support registration of gun sales and licensing of gun owners; and

65% support banning military-style assault weapons;

These wide majorities include McCain voters and gun owners who support these policies, as well. (Not surprisingly, some of these results compare favorably to a CNN poll taken in June of last year.)

What's your opinion? Is it possible that the folks who run the Gallup Poll can be influenced by external forces? Is it conceivable that some of them, the ones making Gallup decisions, are biased towards the pro-gun side?

Those three ideas presented by the Bradys as having wide support among the American people, do you think they're practical? Who are the people opposing background checks for all gun transactions? What do they find objectionable in that?

Is registering and licensing guns and gun owners something we could do? Wouldn't that help?

And what about those famous "assault weapons?" Have we agreed on a definition we can all live with? Is such a thing possible, to define them?

What's your opinion? Why do some gun owners resist the Brady approach so vehemently? Why are they so threatened by all this?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Mike, you do realize the NRA and the so-called "gun lobby" are not one in the same?

    The NRA is a political group independent of firearms manufacturers. They're funded primarily by millions of members.

    The Brady campaign?...... not much grassroots support. Instead they rely on the Joyce Foundation for funding.

    And Mike, I vehemently oppose the Brady's because they oppose a fundamental civil right. If a group's sole purpose was to deny you your 1st Amendment free speech rights you'd vehemently oppose them at every turn wouldn't you?

    And yes mike, the sole purpose of the Brady's is to deny 2nd Amendment rights. "reasonable restrictions" is complete bullshit and they know it. Their record of supporting ANY and ALL gun control measures shows where they stand. There's nothing they consider an "infringement," no gun control law is ever an UNreasonable restriction.

  2. I would trust the results of a Gallup pole over one commissioned by the Brady Bunch or CNN. Both of them have an agenda.

    If the NRA took a similar poll at their annual convention and meeting of members, would you believe it to be valid?

  3. I bet he either ignores or finds a reason to downplay the poll mentioned here:

    Alphecca makes a good point--The media profiling these wackos may be pointing out that it is the mind and not the gun that matters.

    I'd love to know the wording of the questions in the Brady poll. There aren't that many non-gun owners who understand the difference between a 'military style' rifle and a real military rifle. I bet if you were to ask people "should we ban guns based on handles, stocks and bayonets?" you would get basically two answers--a small percentage would answer "Yes--we should ban based on any excuse we can find", and "No, what do those things have to do with abuse?"

    Why do all background check proposals include full registration?

    Is registering and licensing reporters, churches and other parts of the bill of rights a good idea? What's the objection-After all, we aren't talking about a ban, and irresponsible reporting can kill public confidence and ruin our financial markets?

    And if you're only going to answer one of my questions--What features of a gun do YOU think make them particularly bad compared to others? "I don't know enough about guns" is a cop-out--you know enough to say we need more restrictions but when it comes time to say what restrictions would be effective, you change the subject.

  4. Here's some numbers for you guys to thropw at each other:

    4,000,000: Approximate number of current NRA members
    32%: Approximate percentage of NRA members eligible to vote for the board
    3.2%: Approximate percentage of NRA members who actually vote
    68%: Percentage of Americans who support extending the federal assault weapons ban
    57%: Percentage of gun owners who support the ban
    32%: Percentage of NRA members who support the ban
    $3,140,346: Amount of NRA's disclosed campaign spending in 2000
    $20,000,000: Estimated amount of NRA's undisclosed campaign spending on issues ads, etc., in 2000
    12%: Percent of the NRA's annual budget spent on the 2000 elections
    $892,166: Minimum amount earned through salary and benefits by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in 2005.
    $35: Annual membership fee to join the NRA
    25,490: The number of members it takes just to pay LaPierre's 2005 earnings.

    These numbers are based on the year 2006 as the NRA does not disclose current membership numbers.

    And the NRA is a very big part of the gun lobby when you stick to a realistic definition of just what a lobby does and how the money is spent.

  5. MikeB,

    Let's try it again to take away what you might have been offended by.

    It seems the Gallup Poll, that inviolate bastion of truth all Americans respect, is just another mouthpiece for the gun lobby.

    Edited for acceptability -- Why are you simply parroting the lines from the Brady Campaign?

    Do you have any other support for your statement other then Paul believes it and you believe it?

    When we accuse the Brady Campaign of being in the pocket of the Joyce foundation, we provide evidence of funding. When we accuse the Joyce Foundation of being anti-freedom, we quote their own words.

    Any evidence besides what Paul thinks that the Gallup Organization is in the pocket for the "gun lobby"?

    What a hypocritical bunch of folks you and Helmke are.

    You and him are jumping on the Gallup for a poll accomplished in April..and using a poll they conducted as proof.


    In polling of 1,083 voters conducted between November 5 and 9 by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,

    Wow, Also nearly 6 months old. What chutzpah.

    Who are the people opposing background checks for all gun transactions? What do they find objectionable in that?

    They are the people who KNOW what they are talking about or have been explained exactly what the "gun show loophole" is - NON-EXISTENT.
    Have you ever sold a car to another individual? Did you perform a background check to make sure (s)he wasn't prohibited from driving? Was mentally stable?

    How about ever sell a computer or camera? Background check to make sure your equipment didn't flow into the hands of Child Pornographers?

    If you aren't willing to put that same restriction on other pieces of private property, you shouldn't put them on firearms.

    Is registering and licensing guns and gun owners something we could do? Wouldn't that help?

    Hey Mike, show us two things about registration.

    1. Where it has made a difference by reducing total crime rates?

    2. Where registration was successful in getting the criminals to register their firearms?

    Later, I might tear about their survey to show you how easy it is to bias the results by the way the questions are asked

  6. I take it you have never heard of a push poll? Polls are not all that accurate to begin with, as the results can e slanted by how one asks a question. Of course Brady's poll will give the results they want, and the "gun lobbies" will show the results they want. Its called an agenda. Of course, there are other things, you can influence the results by limiting responses. I agree with others, I would take the side of gallop over Brady or the NRA anyday.

  7. MikeB,

    Thanks for approving my comment, too bad you disapproved the first one, I think it was "more colorful" :)

    Now, how about answering the questions.

    By the regarding the NRA as the "gun lobby", I've been commenting on blogs for 18 months or so. Only this month did my wife and I join the NRA.

    So much for us being the "gun lobby" aka the NRA.

    We are simply people standing up for our rights. People trying to discuss the issue and be heard, just like you.

    Do you see us accusing you being the "anti-gun lobby"?

  8. MikeB,

    First question is:
    Would you say the views of the National Rifle Association, also known as the NRA, were one of the most important factors in deciding the Presidential election or were not very important?

    First, most surveys will not use binary questions because if the views aren't in complete alignment or opposite, there is a large chance the answers will not reflect reality.

    A better way would have been to use a 5 point scale where 1 completely does not agree and 5 completely agrees or similar.

    Second, most people aren't familar with the "views of the NRA" because they aren't members of the NRA. Only 4,000,000 people are actual members of the NRA although more consider themselves that.

    Third, the phrasing of the questions talks about the views of the NRA versus views about the 2nd amendment. That can change the perspective of the respondent.

    Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment supports an individual right to own gun, with reasonable restrictions. With this in mind, do you support or oppose the passage of laws placing reasonable restrictions on guns?

    Again a binary response without giving people information on what "reasonable restrictions". Most people can agree with background that is reasonable.

    It is also the current law so people are saying "yes, we can support the current laws". Laws also prevent carrying in bars, in jails, etc. Those are seen as reasonable so it is no surprise that people can support those....Wait, we already have those laws.

    So, people seem to be saying that we support the laws we currently have. Am I missing that?

    Question #3

    Criminal background checks for all gun sales

    No explanation of what "all gun sales" means. No question about should individuals be allowed to sell firearms to other individuals without government interference or approval. The way a question is phrased has a huge impact on the answer.

    Registration of gun sales and licensing of gun owners

    Again, no explanation of terms. Many people believe that the background check is a form of registration. Several states require registration already.

    I could go on but you get the point. The 4 question survey can hardly be considered authoritative or without bias. Didn't even get into expected answer bias or other issues.

    Sorry but the survey doesn't appear to meet impartiality or basic standards of surveying.

  9. Cop out or no, Sevesteen, I really don't know exactly which weapons I'd like to see banned and which not. I guess the only way to do it, if it were going to be done, is not to keep calling for bans on "assault weapons" or "military type guns" like many have been doing because those terms are too vague, but to get specific. I could envision a fairly detailed list of all the major types of weapons available in ascending order of lethality. Then someone has to determine where the line is to be drawn. Everything beyond the line would then be stopped at the source, at the manufacturer. No FFL dealer could sell any more of those.

    Something like that combined with full registration of all weapons and licensing of all gun owners, as well as background checks for every transaction would probably do the trick.

  10. Yes, I do realize the NRA and the "gun lobby" are not intercheangable terms.

    And, I agree that normally the Gallup Poll would be a more reliable source of data than the Brady Campaign or CNN, but Paul did bring up some noteworthy problems with this Gallup report, did he not?

  11. See how hypocritical Paul is MikeB?

    He complained that the Gallup poll was months old but his own poll was months old.

    He complains about problems with the Gallup poll but ignores the problems with his own poll.

    As to what firearms to ban, what is the difference between a semi-automatic hunting rifle and a "military style assault rifle"?

  12. What do you mean by lethality? A .22 is deadly, and if I'm not mistaken is the most common caliber in gun deaths, due to its popularity.

    Shotguns are generally the last on the list of guns to be banned or restricted. They are also close to last on the list of guns I'd want my opponent to have, and near the top of the list of what I'd bring if I were to be forced into a gunfight.

    On the other hand, I'd prefer my opponent have a full auto--chances are most of his ammo will be wasted shooting over my head.

    I can understand not knowing specific guns that should be banned. Are there at least features that you consider too dangerous for civilian use, or is your view just "guns are too dangerous, ban as many as we can with whatever excuses we can find"?

  13. MikeB,

    Why don't you address my comments about the hypocrisy of the Brady Campaign?

    Why publish a statement based on data that is almost six months old, in the wake of a string of mass shootings committed over the past month?

    this is the blatant deceptive methods of the Brady campaign exposed and you say nothing about it.

    The very survey they are using to counter the Gallup survey was accomplished in NOVEMBER of last year. It is on the front page of the survey.

    Isn't it a little dishonest to complain about an old survey while using an old survey?

  14. About the hypocrisy, Bob. Did you notice what the anonymous commenter said about everyone expecting the Bradys and the NRA to come up with surveys that support their agendas? The Gallup Poll on the other hand is supposed to be more fair, at least in the public opinion of it.

    The points Paul raised about the timing of that Gallup release were good ones. The fact that he produced stats that were six months old, clearly identifying the survey date, has nothing to do with it.

    Bob, you're set on fully-contentious mode, that's like fully-automatic in one of them there scary military rifles. It makes reasonable discussion impossible.

  15. Is registering and licensing guns and gun owners something we could do? Wouldn't that help?NO MIKE! Licensing and registration has preceeded numerous mass genocides throughout history. They increased regulations, licensed & registered guns/gun owners, and finally confiscated arms.

    It's not some paranoid pie in the sky hysteria, it's merely an honest examination of history.

    Why should we implement something that has no impact on violent crime and has preceeded most of the mass disarmaments and subsequent genocides throughout modern human history?

    Canada tried it, it cost them BILLIONS, they saw massive non-compliance. I can guarantee you'd see even more civil disobedience in the US.

    I'll tell you right now. I will not register my guns. Period.

  16. Now Mike,

    I see that you approved a comment for Mike W. and yet my reply to your contentious comment didn't make it through.

    You are playing games with your comments and I don't see how I violated your commenting policy. It is as if you don't want certain comments to be seen not because I'm being mean.

    Maybe it is because I'm pointing out your unethical behavior and how that unethical behavior is supporting unconstitutional efforts by groups like the Brady Campaign.

    Thought you were better then that