Why the General Social Survey is gun control advocates favorite survey
A few years ago, while I was doing research at the University of Chicago, I had lunch with Tom Smith, who is the director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). This private organization conducts many important national surveys for the government as well as other clients. During lunch Tom mentioned how important he thought the General Social Survey was. He felt the large drop in gun ownership implied by his survey would “make it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns” and pass more restrictive regulations. His surveys have traditionally shown one of the lowest gun ownership rates among any of the surveys: for example, almost 20 percentage points lower than recent polling by John Zogby. . . .Tom Smith is still the director of the GSS. It is interesting to note that both the JAMA study this week as well as Tom Smith have received funding from the Joyce Foundation. I am not saying that the Joyce Foundation funding altered their views, but just that Joyce knows the individuals who are on their side of the debate.
UPDATE: Here is an example of another survey by Gallup that shows a 17 percentage point higher gun ownership rate.