Underestimating Gun Owners To Advance More Control
Mainstream media just cannot accept the reality that Americans support the Second Amendment, even those who are not gun owners. Case in point – the Washington Post just published an “analysis” by two University of Kansas professors that argue Americans overestimate the number of people who own firearms, then spuriously assert that this inexplicable confusion makes people support the right to own guns.
The first question is why the paper would choose to publish their opinion piece thinly disguised as a research-based analysis. Looking at one of their hyper-political twitter feeds, it’s hard to believe they are capable of pure, unbiased research.
Insulting Americans’ Intelligence
Either way, the article is biased and downright insulting to the general population. Rather than reporting on the fact that public opinion surveys show broad support for the Second Amendment throughout our society, the authors toss out a red herring to explain that when taking surveys, Americans are too stupid to answer questions correctly. If they only understood that they may be overestimating the number of other people that own guns, then they would surely oppose gun rights.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a section from the article:
Drawing on sources cited by gun rights and gun regulation groups, we estimated — generously — that roughly 20 to 30 percent of Americans personally own one or more guns. Our survey respondents, however, estimated that on average 43 percent of their fellow citizens own guns — a significant overestimate. What’s more, nearly 45 percent of our respondents estimated that 50 percent or more of the U.S. population owns at least one gun.
So, these professors from Kansas, the all-knowing Oz’s, have decided 20-30 percent of Americans are gun owners. They then find in a survey that they are wrong and that 43 percent of Americans own firearms. Rather than correcting their ivy-tower estimate to reflect the reality, they look for reasons that the general population is confused.
We’ve Seen That Estimate Before
Forget for a moment that the 43 percent estimate is in line with other recent estimates and that for reasons we have discussed here before, this is likely lower than reality as gun owners are reluctant to tell random strangers on the phone that they own a gun. The real kicker in this article is that they decide the reason people support gun rights is that they overestimate the number of gun owners. Therefore, if they knew that the professors’ made up number were fact, they would see the light and support gun control policies in larger numbers.
That just doesn’t make sense. Yes – gun owners are more likely to know others that own guns and may report higher guesses about how much of the population own guns. However, if they were to hear that their estimate is too high for the general population, it is a far stretch to argue that they would turn around and support gun control.
‘Resisting Correction,’ Indeed
The article, of course, ends with a discussion of our “post-truth” era and claims that the mass confusion of Americans misleads lawmakers into opposing the gun control policies that their constituents don’t want.
The article truly can be summed up in one of its final lines: “Research suggests that people who believe misinformation often resist correction.” We would offer an alternative assumption for these professors and the newspaper who agreed to publish their intelligence-insulting piece on the American population. Perhaps we can assume that Americans do know what they believe and what they want their elected officials to stand for. Their “resisting correction” is refusing to give up their beliefs for those of the elite academia and mainstream media.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.