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New Virginia Poll Asks Loaded Questions

Protest Easy Guns is already touting a new poll that shows Virginians want to close the so called gun show loophole, and don’t want licensees carrying firearms into places that serve alcohol. But like many polls, the answers are reached by how the question is asked. Let’s take a look:

Under Virginia law, in order for an individual to be able to purchase a firearm at a gun show from a licensed firearm dealer, that individual must first pass a criminal background check. However that same individual could purchase a firearm at the same gun show from an unlicensed seller without first having to pass a criminal background check. This is known as the gun show loophole. Do you support changing the law to close the loophole?

This is loaded with charged language. Loophole implies that it’s something wrong, rather than something legal. Saying “unlicensed seller” implies that the seller is somehow unscrupulous, or doing something wrong. Nothing in this question is, per se, inaccurate, but it leaves the listener with the impression that the activity is shady and borderline illegal. I’m surprised 16.7% of Virginians knew the issue well enough to say no. To an ordinary person who does not understand, of course shady activity should be stopped, right? Just like guns that are used to assault people should be banned. Let’s look at the next one:

Do you think people with concealed weapons permits should be able to bring their weapons into restaurants that sell alcohol?

Note that there’s no mention of what the actual law says, which is that they may not consume alcohol? The implication is that you’ll have people with guns drinking, which most people are understandably opposed to. I think if you asked this question right, they might have difficulty getting a bare majority.

No doubt the anti-gunners will continue beating on this poll, but it’s a great example of how to ask loaded questions in a poll to get the answer you want.

7 Responses to “New Virginia Poll Asks Loaded Questions”

  1. Roberta X says:

    I’ve had a drink or even two while carrying a handgun; it’s legal as church on Sunday here in Indiana. Oddly, I have never had the least inclination to shoot up the place or anyone there.

    This is the carrying-a-gun-makes-you-a-stone-killer meme yet again and it’s still BS.

    …Of course, there are a few states where the only way you can carry a gun into a bar is to carry it openly, presumably so’s they can keep an eye on ya!

  2. Jake says:

    Looks like the Roanoke Times (a decidedly anti-gun paper) has picked it up, too.

    http://www.roanoke.com/politics/wb/222951

  3. Sebastian says:

    Roberta:

    Pennsylvania is the same in that regard. You can carry and have a few drinks. Though it’s generally believed in the police pick you up for something alcohol related, and you’re armed, the sheriff is likely to pull your LTC. They have some leeway when it comes to alcohol and things that might indicate you’d be a danger to society.

  4. Jake says:

    “Do you think people with concealed weapons permits should be able to bring their weapons into restaurants that sell alcohol?”

    The irony here? We already can bring our weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. Virginia is one of those states Roberta mentions – open carry is legal in restaurants that serve alcohol, it’s only concealed carry that’s banned. In fact, you don’t even need a permit, because Virginia doesn’t require a permit for open carry at all.

    The question ignores the facts to get the answer they want – standard procedure for these people.

  5. mikeb302000 says:

    Sebastian, I don’t think you can consider words like “loophole” and “unlicensed” so loaded that they explain the 81%. Maybe you just have to admit that gun-rights sympathies are actually in a minority in Virginia, in spite of what we all thought.

    http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2009/10/virginia-close-gun-show-loophole.html

    What Roberta said is typical pro-gun hysteria, exaggerating what we say to make it sound ridiculous. No one that I know says carrying a gun makes you a stone killer.

    What I say is some of you who do carry guns cannot be trusted to do so. That’s all.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Sebastian, I don’t think you can consider words like “loophole” and “unlicensed” so loaded that they explain the 81%. Maybe you just have to admit that gun-rights sympathies are actually in a minority in Virginia, in spite of what we all thought.

    We don’t know, and we can’t know until the question is asked properly.

  7. Jake says:

    “Sebastian, I don’t think you can consider words like “loophole” and “unlicensed” so loaded that they explain the 81%.”

    If it was just the loaded words, I might agree with you. Combine the loaded words with the blatant misrepresentation of the actual issue, and it certainly can explain the 81%.

    That’s not even going into whether the poll is statistically valid or not (sample size, sampling method, etc.). I haven’t seen numbers in any of the actual articles I’ve read, but several comments in the original article in the Virginian-Pilot indicate a sample size of 500. That’s less than one-quarter of one percent of CHP holders in Virginia, much less the number of voters in Virgina. The sample size is probably not enough to be statistically valid.

    The sampling method is another question: a moderator in the comments at that same article claims it was a “random sample”, but how was that sample randomized? What was the actual makeup of that sample? Where was the sample taken randomly from all of Virginia or a specific area (views in NOVA are distinctly different from coastal Virgina which are different from southwest Virgina which are different from the Richmond/central Virginia area)? Did the randomization produce a geographic or demographic clustering that may have skewed the results? How did they determine the respondents’ “most likely to vote” status? How many respondents were rejected because of that definition?

    Selective “random” sampling is one of the most common ways of “cooking” a poll to get the results you want. More information is needed to even consider taking this one seriously.

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