Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 26, 2013

Fact Check: Poll shows gun buyers face checks

Mostly true

On the president's list of gun-control priorities: require background checks for all gun sales.

That step has widespread support, even among gun owners, gun-control advocates say.

In fact, many assume such a measure is already in place, claimed Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who is vice chair of a new congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

"Even members of the NRA, when they were polled recently, were under the impression that everyone has a criminal background check," she told Ed Schultz in a Jan. 15, 2013, appearance on MSNBC's "The Ed Show."

We wondered: Is that true?

We asked Speier's office to point us to the poll.

Mayors against illegal guns

Speier's communications director, Jenny Werwa, told us the lawmaker based her comment on a July 2012 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

As its name suggests, the group includes city mayors concerned with illegal guns and gun violence and is helmed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a Democrat.

The group hired Republican pollster Frank Luntz. His organization, Luntz Global, polled 945 gun owners nationwide in May 2012, half of whom were gun owners who were "current or lapsed" members of the National Rifle Association and half of whom were non-NRA gun owners.

The poll showed that "gun owners' knowledge of existing laws is tenuous," Luntz Global's report says. "Over half (53 percent ) of non-NRA members and 57 percent of NRA members believe the statement, 'Everyone who wants to buy a gun has to pass a background check to complete the purchase' is true." The reality is that background checks are required in sales by federally licensed gun dealers, but not for those by private sellers.

The White House wants to require criminal background checks for all gun sales. The National Rifle Association, which supports the current background check requirement, has suggested that an expansion of the law might be a step toward gun confiscation.

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