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The Media Doesn't Tell Us Most Gun Owners Support Background Checks

By leaving out the fact that 90 percent of Americans support background checks to cover all gun sales -- the press erroneously presents the Obama initiative as deeply controversial and deeply partisan.
The Media Doesn't Tell Us Most Gun Owners Support Background Checks
Image from: MarkGregory007

We wouldn't want to upset the NRA, would we? Media Matters points out the media covers gun violence issues without any real context -- namely, that most people (even gun owners) support sensible changes to the background check system:

Recent write-ups by NPR, Washington Post, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters, among others, omitted any hard numbers regarding the wide, national support for background checks.

"Gun owners overwhelmingly support background checks," Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, toldthe Center for American Progress last year. "And that includes gun owners who are Republicans and gun owners who are NRA members.

"By leaving out the context -- by leaving out the fact that 90 percent of Americans support background checksto cover all gun sales -- the press erroneously presents the Obama initiative as deeply controversial and deeply partisan.

But they're not. And it's worth noting that much of the existing polling showing vast support for expanded background checks has focused on the question of whether all gun sales should be subject to a background check, but Obama's proposal doesn't even go that far.It's actually hard to find another high-profile public policy issue in the U.S. that enjoys as much bipartisan backing. The polling data is rather remarkable:

*90 percent of Americans support criminal background checks for all gun sales.

*83 percent of gun owners nationally support criminal background checks on all sales of firearms.

*72 percent of NRA members back them.

By often ignoring those findings, the press misreads the story.

For instance, Politico reported Obama will have "a tricky task" convincing "gun-owning Americans" to support his background check push. But that doesn't make sense because most gun-owning Americans already support background checks.

And by failing to distinguish the fact that the NRA and GOP politicians categorically object to any Obama attempt to address gun ownership, but most Americans, including most gun owners, do not.

That omission highlights an ongoing newsroom failure when covering the gun debate during the Obama years: whitewashing the GOP's radical obstruction, and especially the nearly unanimous opposition to the White House-backed gun bill in the wake of 2012 Newtown school gun massacre.


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