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94% of Likely ND Voters Support Mandatory Background Checks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Friday, 12 April 2013 15:20

guns1At least that's what Mayors Against Illegal Guns polling data from January/February shows. Ninety-four percent of likely North Dakota voters think there should be background checks before felons can buy guns at gun shows.  

Here's an excerpt from their press release (which you should go read by clicking on the link right after this excerpt):

NEW POLL FINDS 94 PERCENT IN NORTH DAKOTA FAVOR MANDATORY BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR ALL GUN BUYERS

Survey Released [March 5th] By Mayors Against Illegal Guns Finds Overwhelming Majority of North Dakota Residents Favor Background Checks for All Gun Buyers

Polling data released today by Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows that likely voters in North Dakota overwhelmingly support expanding the gun background check system to include all gun buyers. The data is the first to be released from a survey conducted in more than 60 states and congressional districts by Schoen LLC for the bipartisan coalition of more than 850 U.S. mayors.

“That 94 percent of North Dakota residents want every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check speaks volumes about the changing public mood on guns,” said pollster Doug Schoen.“This margin is unlike any I’ve seen on this issue, and it marks a real sea change. Voters want their elected officials to fight gun violence, and after Newtown, they’re demanding it.”

“Newtown broke our hearts. Two months later, it’s time for Washington to hear the call coming from North Dakota, and from every corner of the country, to close the loopholes in the background check system,” said John Feinblatt, chief policy advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who co-chairs the coalition with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “Even with major loopholes, the system blocks more than 70,000 felons and other dangerous people from buying guns every year. We can reform the system and save many lives – and Americans are virtually unanimous in demanding that Congress do it now.”

Mayors' Against Illegal Guns (Press Release)

Okay, I gotta say a few things about this poll:  (1) I've never heard of the polling firm that did this poll, Schoen, LLC. I'm not a polling expert, but I know enough about polling to know that polling in North Dakota isn't like polling in other states.  (See, e.g., all the polling on the Heitkamp/Berg race in 2012).  I'd be surprised to learn 94% of North Dakotans could agree on the color of a clear sky (teabaggers would all call it red, I'm sure).  But if Schoen polled us in a generic poll, I think his numbers could be off by quite a bit, but  (2) Not by 45 points, (3) I'd like to see the crosstabs on this poll, and to know more about how the poll was conducted. I am a little skeptical, but not skeptical enough to say I reject its results completely. I just would want to know more; (4) The press release is from March 5th relating to polling data from January and February. I haven't seen anything about this in any local press. I assume that's the case because dead kids from Connecticut don't buy ads in the Fargo Forum, the Bismarck Tribune or on KFGO or KFYR radio. I only learned of it because MotherJones magazine's Facebook wall had a reference to it this week and I Googled it after seeing that to confirm.

But let's say -- for discussion's sake -- that these numbers are accurate.  If they are, then how does yesterday's story in the New York Times make any sense.  Here's a snippet from that story:

WASHINGTON — The families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims who have converged on Capitol Hill this week made a point of visiting Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman Democrat known for the “North Dakota nice” of her home state, but on the main issue that brought them here — limiting the capacity of gun magazines and universal background checks — she curtly rejected their pleas for support.

“In our part of the country, this isn’t an issue,” Ms. Heitkamp explained in an interview afterward. “This is a way of life. This is how people feel, and it is extraordinarily difficult to explain that, especially to grieving parents.”

Bottom line, she said, “I’m going to represent my state.”

NYTimes.com

I'm having a hard time with this.  Heitkamp "curtly rejected" the pleas of the family members of the dead Sandy Hook kids and teachers. I don't think of her as being heartless and out of touch.  But if this polling data is accurate, these two facts cannot be reconciled.  On the one hand, this poll suggests 94% of North Dakotans support background checks.  On the other hand, Senator Heitkamp says she's going to listen to North Dakotans and NOT going to listen to big city billionaires and is going to oppose background checks. Even if the Schoen LLC poll is off by 30 points, 64% of North Dakotans support background checks to stop violent criminals from buying guns at gun shows. If that's the case, you'd think Heitkamp would support background checks before criminals can buy guns.

I just don't know how to reconcile these two things. Has Heitkamp been the victim of a calling campaign from the NRA? Is she "curtly rejecting" the pleas of the family members of the dead children and teachers at Sandy Hook based upon false assumptions and stereotypes about North Dakota?  That can't be.  

Are these polling numbers really off by 45 percentage points?  Does Heitkamp have internal polling numbers showing North Dakotans think violent felons ought to be able to buy guns without having to go through the overwhelming hassle of a five minute background check? I just don't know.  

But I'd like to.


Comments (2)add comment

Marty said:

April 13, 2013
Votes: +2

What the Heck said:

...
While Heitkamp's statement it not an issue here may be true now, God help us when the first incident occurs. It is not like we are ripe for it, given the influx of population and Wild West mentality our state leaders are cultivating. It is only a matter of time until something very bad happens here.
 
April 13, 2013
Votes: +0

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