By now you have seen the claim countless times. According to gun control advocates and their media minions, about 90% of Americans support the criminalization of private gun transfers — mislabeled by its proponents as “universal background checks.” In a rare case of journalistic integrity, the New York Times published an article debunking this bogus gun control talking point.
Titled “Voters Say They Want Gun Control. Their votes say something different,” Nate Cohn’s June 3 article explains that while some polls may show significant support for criminalizing private transfers, voter behavior clearly shows that Americans are divided on politics. Cohn begins,
This is one of the most baffling questions for Democrats in American politics: why is the political system so insensitive to gun violence? Extended background checks regularly receive more than 80 or 90 percent support in polls. Yet gun control legislation is generally stalled in Washington, and Republicans never seem to pay the political price for their opposition.
After listing some of the usual explanations for this reality, Cohn notes: “But there is another possibility, one that might be most worrisome of all for gun control supporters: their problem might also be voters, not just politicians or special interests.
The author then goes on to point out that in all cases where so-called “universal background checks” have appeared on the ballot, politics have vastly underperformed poll-based expectations.
For example, based on survey data, 86% of Nevada residents would have supported the criminalization of private transfers. However, when Nevadans went to the polls in 2016 to vote on the policy, the measure barely passed with 50.45 percent of the vote.
A similar story unfolded in Maine. According to the New York Times article, 83% of Mainers were expected to support a background check measure in 2016. On Election Day, Maine residents voted against the policy, with 52% opposing it. Even in deep blue states like Washington and California, private transfer voting metrics have underperformed expectations by about 20-30%.
Cohn goes on to point out,
The usual theories of conservative gun policy in the United States do not explain the poor results. Proponents of the initiatives have outspent the all-powerful gun lobby. All kinds of voters, not just single-issue voters or politicians, had their say. The Senate was not to blame; In effect, the results suggested that a national referendum on background checks would have lost.
This isn’t the first time The New York Times has attempted to bring some much-needed reality to the gun control debate. In 2018, The New York Times published an article titled “Support for Gun Control Seems Strong. But it may be sweeter than it looks.
The author of this article, Margot Sanger-Katz, noted: “While a wide range of gun control laws seem popular in the polls, support may fade once the details emerge and that they are subject to vigorous political debate“. Speaking to the Maine Anti-Gun Initiative, Sanger-Katz wrote:
David Farmer, who led Maine’s effort for universal background checks in 2016, said gun rights supporters can be particularly persuasive once a concrete proposal is unveiled. In Maine, polling support for the measure dwindled between the introduction and the final vote, before failing, 52-48.
This suggests that as ignorance recedes, support for gun control also declines.
Despite attempts by the New York Times and the NRA-ILA to educate the public on this subject, much of the mainstream press continues to repeat the gun control activists‘ line about supporting drug checks. antecedents. Even so-called “fact checkers” assiduously reject the actual votes cast for and against this policy in favor of the debunked ballot.
Simple ignorance plays a large role in inaccurate reporting of gun problems. However, given the continued intransigence of most mainstream media on this subject in the face of overwhelming data, those who continue to assert that there is near universal support for the criminalization of private transfers of firearms turn out to be unscrupulous political activists rather than journalists.