Former Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are on a tour this week to attack Senators who voted against the Senate gun control law in April. Here are two pieces that I have written on their claims about polling and the claimed benefits from background checks. Here is part of the piece that I had in the Columbus Dispatch:
While deserving our greatest sympathy for the tragedy they have personally suffered, Giffords and Kelly are plain wrong about the “common-sense gun-control proposals” they advocate.
The couple’s message emphasizes polling data, which they claim finds that 80 percent to 90 percent of Americans are in favor of expanded background-checks legislation. They argue that Portman doesn’t care about what his constituents want or whether laws will save lives but simply whether the NRA will give him money. As Kelly puts it, “How do you balance what your constituents want with how much money is going to be spent against you in your next election?”
The polls showing such overwhelming support really ask little more than whether people want to stop criminals from obtaining guns, not whether voters actually favor the legislation that Giffords and Kelly support.
For example, a mid-April poll by the Pew Research Center provides one such illustration when it asks voters whether they were happy that the Senate bill had been defeated. While 67 percent of Democrats were “disappointed” or “angry” about the defeat, more Republicans and independents were “ very happy” or “relieved” than upset by the defeat.
Kelly often points out how the approval rating for some of the senators who voted against gun control has dropped over the past six months or so. Most of this polling is from the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling. Rasmussen Reports finds President Barack Obama’s own disapproval rating on guns also rose by 13 percentage points from February to early June. In April, a Quinnipiac University poll found only 41 percent of Americans approved of Obama's stand on gun control. . . .
Here is part of what I had in the New Hampshire Union Leader:
Consider “background checks.” According to Kelly: “40 percent of all Americans who buy a gun buy it without a background check.” That is simply false. You can only get a number even close by counting within-family gifts and inheritances as sales.
How we buy guns is already quite different than it was during the early 1990s. Prior to the Brady Act going into effect on Feb. 28, 1994, half the states required background checks, but federal law only required that people sign a statement saying under threat of perjury that they did not have a criminal record or a history of mental problems. Today, federally licensed dealers check whether potential gun buyers have not committed a felony or many types of misdemeanor convictions, have not been dishonorably discharged from the military, and have not been involuntarily committed for mental illness.
The 40 percent figure rounds up a claim that 36 percent of transfers were done without a background check, and that number came from a small, 251-person survey conducted two decades ago, from November 1991 to December 1994. That is the only study done, and most of the survey covered sales before the Brady Act instituted mandatory federal background checks, telling us nothing about background checks after the law. . . .
Some information on Kelly's views.
MARK KELLY: I think any bill that does not include a universal background check is a mistake. It's the most common sense thing that we can do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to weapons.
I mean, the system that we have right now, we have 40 percent of all Americans who buy a gun buy it without a background check, and that's probably where most of the criminals and the mentally ill are going. I mean, we know from a poll that has been done with criminals in prison that over 80 percent of them get them through that loophole.
So, it would be a mistake not to address the thing that 92 percent of American households support and 74 percent of NRA members support, which is the universal background check. . . .
KELLY: Well, you know, we went in there, my executive director and ours, the executive of our organization, and in five minutes and 36 seconds is the time it took to fill out one piece of paper. You only have to fill out one side and for it to be submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and get an answer. Five minutes and 36 seconds.
So, what it shows you is that it is not the burden that the NRA leadership says, what a background check is. I mean, it's a simple, common sense thing we can do to make sure the criminals and the mentally ill can't have access to firearms. . . .
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about that, because in Gabby's tragic case, the shooter, Jared Loughner, had been suspended from college because he was deemed to be a threat to himself and to others. He went to a gun store, he got a gun, passed a background check. And, yet he was able then of course to go out and shoot Gabby and 18 other people.
And, the NRA says the problem, the problem with the background check is that -- the kind of mental health information, for instance in Loughner's case, doesn't get passed on, so it doesn't get to be part of the background check. . . .
Mark Kelly's claim about 1.7 million prohibited people being stopped from buying guns because of background checks is available here
. Kelly's op-ed in Politico
, and the Houston Chronicle
contains many similar claims. Information on their trips to these states to put pressure on the Senators is available here
Labels: background checks, ObamaGunControl, op-ed