Gun control has been a big issue in Congress and a lot during Barack Obama’s presidency. In a speech following the San Bernardino shootings in late 2015, President Obama talked about how he was going to take some executive orders to help tighten gun laws. In his speech, he mentioned that over 90% of Americans favor “commonsense gun reforms”. I decided to investigate this statistic further because I felt that if this was really true, then something would have been done about gun control a long time ago.
One of the responses to this speech was from NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker. She said “President Obama failed to pass his anti-gun agenda through Congress because the majority of Americans oppose more gun control.” I looked for some statistical evidence of this, but I couldn’t find any. I figured this was just something she pulled out at a press conference to further the NRA pro-gun agenda.
To get to the bottom of this, I researched the statistic in Obama’s speech some more. The statistic came from a poll that CBS and New York Times conducted together. I also found out that it was conducted with a series of other questions, which included concern about federal government interfering with religion, background check on all gun buyers, which would help prevent gun violence: stricter laws or mental health services, and illegal immigration and citizenship questions. Since this was a broad poll, we can’t really tell how exactly people feel about gun laws since very few questions were asked. With this information, we can’t really imply that the majority of American’s feel this way because the question was very broad. It didn’t go into detail. What Obama chose to share was just the initial question, not the question that actually broke down the first question. He did mention that the vas majority of responsible un owners should stand up and demand leaders heed the voices of the people they are supposed to represent. It’s important that he included this, so that it doesn’t look like his plan is following a certain agenda, and it appeals to greater amounts of people.
This poll was conducted by telephone October 21st-25th, 2015 among a random sample of 1,298 people nationwide. Among them were 1,136 registered voters. Most likely, if you’re registered to vote, then this is an issue that you have taken into consideration and is maybe one that you care more about. Also, it is biased because you can easily decline an interview over telephone. A lot of people are very busy or just don’t want to be interviewed, so it is most likely that the people being interviewed are passionate about the subject one way or the other. The population is underrepresented because only 1,300 people out of the 528 million people living in the United States were interviewed. Those that don’t own a telephone don’t get a change to be included, which are most likely people that live in poverty. It’s also completely random, so we don’t know a lot of psychographics, such as which state they live in, their education level, annual income, etc.
CBS and the New York Times are seen as mostly neutral in most eyes. Extremely right winged conservatives would not pay attention to these news sources because they are on the liberal side of the spectrum. They might not trust these news sources, so they would be super reluctant to be interviewed by them. Because they probably weren’t interviewed, their side of the story was not spoken, so it can be assumed that this poll is more left winged and liberal than neutral. You could say the same about the NRA spokeswoman because she had no stat, that it was just for her own agenda. While I’m sure that CBS and NYT tried to keep this as neutral as they could, that just isn’t the case because of all of the interferences.