Once upon a time…

Base graphic from Washington Post.

 … and the blissful ignorance of Washington Post readers is left undisturbed!


Here’s the badly flawed piece from the Washington Post:

…[D]ata released this week from the General Social Survey, widely regarded as the gold standard for social science survey research, shows that in 2014, the number of American households owning guns remained at 40-year lows.

Really now?

It must be true of course, because the author of this screed,  says the General Social Survey is the gold standard of social science survey research!

Whoa.  Not so fast.

From the comments in the WashPo story:

The”drop” in household gun ownership reported as news here (based on the self-proclaimed “gold standard” U. Chi. GSS data), incidentally, has not only been questioned by national news organizations and the Crime Prevention Research Center, it is also directly contradicted by Washington Post’s own (ABC News/Washington Post) polls that shows steady gun ownership at about half (+/- 45%) of US households for the last 20 years. See also Gallup, in October 2011,: “At 47%, reported gun ownership is the highest it has been in nearly two decades.”

And, John Lott told us all we needed to know about the head of the head of the General Social Survey:

A few years ago, while I was doing research at the University of Chicago, I had lunch with Tom Smith, who is the director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). This private organization conducts many important national surveys for the government as well as other clients. During lunch Tom mentioned how important he thought the General Social Survey was. He felt the large drop in gun ownership implied by his survey would “make it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns” and pass more restrictive regulations. His surveys have traditionally shown one of the lowest gun ownership rates among any of the surveys: for example, almost 20 percentage points lower than recent polling by John Zogby. . . .

What’s more, this wishful thinking and make believe flies directly in the face of hard numbers from the Illinois State Police.


What’s more, at the end of 2014, the Illinois State Police tell us there were right at 1.8 million active FOID cards.  That’s a 50% growth in the number of Illinois FOID card holders (gun owners) in a mere five years.

That’s not a faulty survey.  Those are real numbers.

Illinois is surely not an outlier, given the intensely brisk sales of guns since Obama was elected.

Barack Hussein Obama has earned the title of America’s greatest gun salesman.


Reality is vastly different than the make-believe results from a faulty “survey”.  The “gold standard” survey relies on people to answer honestly about something many view as intensely personal and none of a stranger’s business.  It’s like calling families up and asking mom and dad when was the last time they had extramarital sex.  What’s more, the head of this survey group acknowledged a gross bias as he seeks to shape public policy with his junk “surveys”.


6 thoughts on “MAKE BELIEVE: WashPo sells make-believe when it comes to America’s “declining” gun ownership”
  1. Anyone here get asked to participate in the Social Survey? I didn’t think so.

    And if they did ask, I probably wouldn’t tell them. It’s none of their *%@#!%(+%$$!!! business!

  2. Do they think if they repeat a lie enough times, the masses will believe it?

    While I think the average low-information voter isn’t smart, the aren’t that dumb, are they?

    In either case, the Washington Post would make Goebbels proud.


  3. All the leftist media is touting that.
    They ignore the REAL number.
    They are going by the PERCENTAGE of households with a gun.
    When you look at the NUMBER of households with a gun, it has gone up.
    1960’s 50% = 33.6 million
    The latest GALLUP Poll I could find says 42% of households have guns.
    2014 estimated households is 124 million.
    That makes it over 52 MILLION households with guns.

    Remember, that is the percentage that actually answered the poll from Gallup, the actual percentage could be higher, and the NRA estimates it at 50%.

    Total households has grown faster than households with guns, so the percentage drops. Simple math, which Liberals and Democrats do not understand. They pick the statistic that furthers their lies and agenda.

  4. Excellent article. I’ve also used Illinois FOIDs as an example. And something that makes it clearer is to throw in the state’s rather dismal growth rate and compare it to the growth in FOIDs when they try to claim that it isn’t growing fast enough to replace the old white guys that are dying off.
    I also like to throw in the explosive growth in my region of high school trap leagues that introduce youths into the shooting sports.

  5. In response to an email I sent to the Publisher and Editor of the Journal Gazette – Times Courier:
    To: Craig Rogers; Penny Weaver
    Subject: 10 Mar 2015 front page article

    Dear Mr. Rogers & Ms. Weaver,

    While I’m sure that you willingly print articles received from other media sources, I was shocked (yet amused) to read the article in today’s paper titled” Major survey shows gun ownership declining” by Emily Swanson, Associated Press.

    In polite response to the glaring misrepresentation of the facts about gun ownership, I would openly direct your attention to a more reputable response to those so called facts.

    Please visit http://www.gunssavelife.com/?p=15833 and review real facts about gun ownership obtained from more reputable sources.

    I would ask that you print a follow up story as a disclaimer for your having published fictional information purported to be nonfictional.

    Thank you,

    William A. Harrison
    I received the following response from the publisher:

    Dear Mr. Harrison,

    Thank you for your email and presenting additional sources of research related to firearms.

    We are members of the Associated Press and regularly print their content. Our market is very interested in firearms, firearm ownership and the ensuing debates about gun regulations. The decision to publish this story was based on our community’s interest in the topic. It is a story making waves in the media, and our readers- both for and against additional gun control legislation have a right to know this survey was released.

    The survey is statistically valid- here is the methodology:

    The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014. The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level. The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014, among 2,538 American adults. The GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File was used to produce the statistics presented.

    However, surveys can glean differing results through the wording of questions. I’m certain the surveys you sourced were statistically valid as well. There are three measurements being discussed in the story and your sources- Gun Ownership, Households with Guns and FOID card data. Each of those are mutually exclusive. As a personal example, I had an Illinois FOID card years before I owned a firearm. Therefore an increase in FOID cards does not necessarily equate to an increase in gun ownership.

    Our mission is to be objective and present differing sides of arguments to inform our readers. I’m confident we will run stories viewed as more favorable to those against additional gun control legislation in the future. To not have run this story, a case could be made of censoring information to our readers. For the record, our newspaper (as far as I know from recent history) has not taken a position in the gun control debate.

    Again, I appreciate your email and encourage you to write a letter to the editor presenting your views regarding the story.

    Craig Rogers

    I fully intend on composing a Letter to the Editor since he indicates that he accepts the credentials of the GSS.

    With anticipated permission I will cite the observations presented by Geoff in a previous response.

Comments are closed.