NSSF on Pew survey: Expresses optimism about gun ownership, raises doubt about public opinion

The trade association for the gun industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, expressed optimism with the findings from a Pew Research survey showing four-out-of-10 people saying they live in a household with a gun.

“Some might see it as a magazine half full – or half empty,” said Larry Keane, the NSSF’s general counsel, in a blog post. “Better yet, the findings of a Pew Research Center survey report titled America’s Complex Relationship with Guns shows it’s not time to step off the firing line, but to reload.”

The 79-page report is the result of an extensive survey of 3,930 participants, including 1,269 gun owners, from around the country. The published material includes a collection of demographic information and covers a broad range of issues and opinions driving the debate over guns in the U.S.

The key takeaways for the NSSF include 42 percent living in a house with a gun and 36 percent open to owning one; 61 percent of gun owners citing personal protection as a key reason for owning a firearm; 66 percent saying they own multiple guns, which de-stigmatizes owning more than one gun; 59 percent of gun owners saying they’ve taken a gun safety course; and 95 percent of gun owners saying they’ve taken their kids to the range.

While noting positives for gun owners, results showing public opinions on gun control policies should be taken “with a grain of salt,” Keane said.

Pew found that a majority of participants support stricter gun control laws, with an overwhelming majority favoring stronger background check laws. Support falls behind prohibiting the mentally ill from buying a gun, No Fly No Buy lists, and requiring checks before private sales and at gun shows. A majority also favored a federal database tracking gun sales, and banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Keane said “it is evident” that participants in the survey “did not know” about the issues — specifically, about due process issues with No Fly lists — they were discussing nor did Pew fully advise them.

Citing data from Pew’s survey, he also questioned how many participants were being honest about owning a firearm. Some 80 percent said “they don’t mind if other people know they own a gun, but they don’t set out to tell them.”

“There are other reasons to skeptical of the Pew findings. The research attempts, but doesn’t fully answer the question of how many guns owners ‘self-select’ to opt out of ownership surveys,’” Keane said.

“Here’s our top takeaway: Get involved. Take someone shooting. Make owning a gun great again,” Keane added.