NEWTOWN, Conn. — Only four out of ten Americans support so-called “universal background checks” at gun shows after being informed that the vast majority of firearms sales at these shows are transacted by licensed retailers that already conduct such checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as required by federal law. The poll results stand in contrast to the vague claim often reported in the media and attributed to gun control proponents without important contextual detail that 90 percent of Americans surveyed support “universal background checks.”
These findings were the among the results of a national scientific poll of more than 1,200 Americans conducted in November by McKeon & Associates and released today by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. The McKeon poll found that only 40 percent of respondents said that extension of “universal background checks” to private transactions at gun shows are necessary, while 53 percent said they are not necessary and 7% said they did not know.
The Americans polled also said by a combined 74 percent margin that conducting background checks against an incomplete database was not effective at all or not very effective while 54 percent said that requiring background checks for transferring guns between friends and family members was not at effective at all or not very effective in reducing violent crime.
The poll also discovered that 92 percent of Americans agree that the states should submit all records of persons federally prohibited from owning a firearm to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS), passing legislation if needed.
Some 70 percent of the survey sample also said that did not believe that government should mandate that all firearms produced incorporate “smart gun” technology should it become commercially available. Only 17 percent approved of a mandate, while 13 percent didn’t know.
“We commissioned this poll to help determine where Americans stood on the various aspects of how the NICS system actually works today,” said Larry G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “When properly informed of relevant details, it turns out that only four out of ten, not nine out of ten Americans support so-called ‘universal background checks’ at gun shows or for firearms transfers. The poll also found that Americans want a National Instant Criminal Background Check System with a dependable and accurate database, which supports the goal of the FixNICS initiative we launched in 2013 and will continue in 2014.”
The poll conducted Nov. 6-7 has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent. Respondents self-identified as 33 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and 41 percent independent. As to ethnicity, 62 percent of respondents said they were Caucasian, 18 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic; and 9 percent, other. As to age, 20 percent of respondents said they were 18-30; 36 percent, 31-45; 23 percent 46-60; and 21 percent, 60 or older.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.