Gun control for the NRA

December 19, 2009|By Peter Jensen

A recent poll shows National Rifle Association members overwhelmingly favor closing the gun show loophole, and that has the NRA fuming. Never mind that the poll was conducted by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who is on Fox News so often that he may as well be considered a network personality. Or that the same poll shows NRA members do support many pro-Second Amendment positions (against a national gun registry, for example).

Once again, the NRA's leadership is out of step - not only with average Americans but even with people who identify themselves as NRA members. That kind of extremism may help the organization raise money from its base, but it's only making the country more vulnerable to criminals who can now purchase firearms at a gun show in most states without a Brady criminal background check.

Leaving that loophole untouched is a preposterous position. And the poll commissioned by a coalition of mayors, including New York's Michael Bloomberg, shows most Americans understand that: 85 percent favor closing the loophole, including 69 percent of self-identified NRA members.

What's the NRA's response? To attack the pollster, Mayor Bloomberg and just about anybody associated with the finding. On the subject of loopholes, the chief criticism appears to be that some people may be denied the opportunity to buy a gun and that gun shows would face more paperwork.

Might those polled have responded differently if NRA hot-button language had been used in the questions? Absolutely. But while the poll was paid for by an organization that would like to see the loophole closed, the questions are fairly worded. Respondents were simply asked if they supported a law requiring "all gun sellers at gun shows" to conduct criminal background checks on the people purchasing guns.

No spin, no lengthy preamble talking about criminals and guns, just the basic premise of whether the Brady law should apply to all.

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