Gun control advocates struck a small win on Thursday when Quinnipiac University published a week-long study stating that 91% of registered voters support universal background checks for gun purchases. Coming after a string of media stories citing waning support for gun control, the results of the study seems to have come as a surprise to many gun owners.
Controversial issues like gun control often attract advocates that espouse politically- charged statements. This type of rhetoric only adds confusion to the public forum. When studies are done on these particular issues, especially by an institution of higher education, care should be taken to be as objective as possible. People look to universities to publish peer-reviewed material with impartiality. The survey done by Quinnipiac University was not objective, and it is clear that the study was done, not to inform the public, but to influence them.
XDTalk is a forum dedicated to the Springfield Armory polymer handgun line and gun ownership in general. Old Timer (top contributor on the forum) Captain Jack posted this statement Thursday night regarding the QU survey. "Poll results don't seem to be correct ... and it's not because I disagree with it, either. What do you think?"
Other posters echoed his sentiments, and one provided a hypothesis of his own.
"It said 91 percent of registered voters ... Well, is that 91 percent of ALL or just the ones living off the work of others sitting at home ready to answer the phone in case there is a poll?"
The merits of an admitted gun rights activist calling foul on gun control statistics notwithstanding, a quick verification should confirm the study's findings without bias, right? The Quinnipiac University website links the study demographics at the bottom of the page. At first glance, it appears everything is in order. 1,711 people surveyed with only a +/- 2.37% margin of error. The study seems to use a decent sample size, and a margin of error less than 3% is acceptable. However, upon further examination of the study's demographics, a few disparities were noticed. For example, the Republican sample size represented only 26% of those surveyed, while the Independent and Democrat sample sizes surpassed at 32% and 34%, respectively. Statistically speaking, a deviation that exceeds 5% represents a biased survey. Also under-sampled were Hispanics at 8% of the sample size, even though Hispanics represented over 16% of the US population in 2010.
There are many issues that pro-2A advocates take with universal background checks. First, expanding the requirement so that no private sales can legally take place with a background check undermines the privacy of individuals who under normal circumstances would not require the government's involvement. A common example of this is a father bequeathing his estate to his children. Under an expanded background checks law, the receiving son would need a background check, a likely unnecessary precaution.
Second, the only way to properly enforce universal background checks is for the Federal government to mine data from purchases and transfers and store them in a database. This amounts to a national firearms registry, something many believe could result in confiscation in the future.
Americans rarely agree 90% on anything. We live in a melting pot of different beliefs, cultures, and traditions. A survey that asserts such a rare statistic should be vetted, especially if the figures are suspect. I imagined something like this coming from a newspaper or some other biased info rag, but not a school. Quinnipiac University should know better.