Is America, land of shooting massacres in schools and public places, slowly falling out of love with guns?Debusmann cites the "University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center (NORC), which has been tracking gun ownership and attitudes on firearms since 1972, the longest-running survey on the subject in the United States." Strange, because Gallup has been doing almost the exact same thing since at least 1959.
The answer is yes, and it runs counter to popular perceptions of the United States as a country where most citizens are armed to the teeth and believe it is every American's inalienable right to buy an AK 47-style assault rifle with the minimum of bureaucratic paperwork.
But in fact, gun ownership in the United States has been declining steadily over more than three decades, relegating gun owners to minority status.
At the same time, support for stricter gun controls has been growing steadily and those in favor make up a majority.
In this "news article," Debusmann goes on to back up his claims that public support for gun control is growing "steadily" based on NORC's research:
The number of households with guns dropped from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006, according to NORC, and the percentage of Americans who reported personally owning a gun has shrunk to just under 22 percent.ETA: Compare with Gallup percentages: 43% say they have a gun in the home in October '06. Also from Gallup, October '05:
Overall, 30% of Americans say they personally own a gun and 12% say some other member of their household owns it.Of course, this has little, if anything to do with Debusmann's assertion on gun control.
Lets just take a look at public opinion over the years, shall we:
Now, as you can see, this apparently inferior research by the Gallup organization shows the opposite, of course only if you have any faith in this Gallup organization. The trend is quite clearly moving toward declining support for "more strict" regulation. Odd, that.
What's more strange, is that the statistics for his claim that support for stricter gun control is "growing steadily" aren't even cited. Rather Debusmann relies on a statement from the anti-gun VPC (surprise!) and this chart from NORC, take a look for yourself:
My oh my, what a trend. Looks like the heart rate monitor on my pet rock. He also relies on other "trends," but the thing is, they are for very specific reasons:
[S]upport for specific measures to regulate firearms has been strong and stable or even gaining ground in recent years.... backing for making the penalty for illegally selling guns tougher than for illegal drug sales was unchanged from 55% supporting this in 2001 and 54% backing it in 2006 and support for criminal background checks for all gun sales, including private sales between individuals increased from 77.5% in 2001 to 80% in 2006 (Table 1 and Smith, 2001)Let's see, according to NORC, support of punishment for gun crime more than drug crime actually fell 1% in this time frame, while support for criminal background checks increased a whopping 2.5%.
So basically Debusmann's "news article" asserts that America's gun culture is fading because of what the VPC said, and because public opinion has changed on a few specific areas only a few percentage points, opinion gathered by NORC.
What you've read so far is not the half of it. Have you ever heard of NORC, especially in regards to public opinion on gun control? I haven't, and probably for good reason. If my old PoliSci professor caught me asking these questions in pursuit of an accurate representation of public opinion, I'd have failed the course.
Here's a question from NORC on the one-gun-a-month proposal:
Some states have passed laws limiting handgun sales to one per month per customer.Some people favor these laws as a way to prevent people from buying large quantities of handguns and selling them to criminals or teenagers. Other people oppose these laws because they say the law interferes with the right of law-abiding citizens to buy guns. Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose a law that prohibits citizens from buying more than one handgun per month?Nice, put the image of criminals, teenagers, and large quantities of guns in the mind of the guy being polled, and your desired response is practically guaranteed.
Most states require a special license to allow people to carry a concealed firearm. Should licenses to carry concealed firearms be issued to any adult who has passed a criminal background check and a gun safety course or only to people with a special need to carry a concealed gun such as private detectives?Well this question was doomed from the start; notice the word "special." Then by saying "any adult," as if any old bum off the street who hasn't got caught by the police is one option, or the "special" need private detective scenario. Now if you're ignorant on gun laws, you typically err on the side of the existing law, so guess what, you pick "special."
Another excellent question:
The government should do everything it can to keep handguns out of the hands of criminals, even if it means that it will be harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns.Well, besides us gun nuts who know better, who in their right mind would possibly want more guns in the hands of criminals, and that's what a person would feel like if they answered incorrectly. I say incorrectly, because that's how this poll is set up. It's flawed, it's biased, and it's bullshit. How about one more:
As a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, do you think that gun control laws should be stricter, making it harder for people to purchase firearms or that gun control laws should be less strict, making it easier for people to purchase firearms?That's nice, terrorists and guns... that's all we need. Would you want it to be easy for a terrorist to buy a gun? When you want a certain answer you'll get it. And that's exactly what NORC did. Let's go back to Gallup, an organization we've all heard of for a little dose of good poll conducting:
Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?Notice the question was not prefaced with something like, criminals by far, have used handguns when shooting at police officers. Or something like, most crimes involving firearms are used by criminals with semi-automatic handguns. Did you see the cunning in that last one? I invoked forms of the word 'crime' two times! And the answer to that Gallup question: 68% said these guns should not be banned, and 30% said they should. Although you could argue who authorized persons actually are, but nonetheless a much better worded question. ETA: See this Gallup video on how minor changes in question wording can dramatically affect the answer: The Safety of Guns.
That's the difference in Gallup and NORC. Have a read through NORC's research and compare it to Gallup's. Night and Day. No wonder NORC's research says one thing while Gallup's says another. I wonder why Debusmann didn't once cite Gallup? Perhaps more perplexing is why his article ended up in the news section, and not the opinion section.
I'm not done yet. Guess who got a grant from the anti-gun Joyce foundation. And guess what for:
National Opinion Research CenterDebusmann is only as objective as his sources.
Chicago, IL $39,499
To add a selection of gun-related questions
to its 2006 General Social Survey. (2 yrs.)"
Suck it Bernd, we're winning.
Update: Have a look at what kind of guy Bernd Debusmann is.
And go through the numbers at Kevin Baker's or Kim du Toit's.
Update: Problems finding Debusmann's article? Well, Reuters had to throw in a caveat and in the process changed the location of the article.