Guns: Dems Promote Poll Showing 85 Percent of Missourians Want Universal Background Checks


Representative Stacey Newman - VIA
  • via
  • Representative Stacey Newman

The Missouri legislature is full of pro-gun, anti-gun control, keep-your-hands-off-my-guns GOP proposals this season -- everything from a bill to stop Obama to legislation criminalizing lawmakers who even suggest gun control. In this climate, Democrats' gun bills are getting nowhere.

But that doesn't mean there's not support for them. At least that's the message of Representative Stacey Newman, a Democrat who, alongside others in the state pushing for stricter gun policies, is promoting a poll this week that says most of Missourians favor universal background checks.

"This is good news," Newman tells Daily RFT. "Even here in Missouri, just like the rest of the country, people want common-sense policies."

How many people support background checks for all sales?

The poll, from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national coalition promoting stricter gun policy, says that 85 percent of Missouri residents want gun buyers to pass a criminal background check.

As we've reported, Newman has proposed a bill this session that would eliminate a loophole in background checks in the state, similar to initiatives around the country. Currently, licensed dealers must submit paperwork, but private sales, one that happen online for example, don't require these criminal checks.

"We know that on the national level, 90 percent of gun this," she says. "Everybody says, 'But what about Missouri?'"

This latest research, she argues, makes it clear most residents are on board.


Pollster Doug Schoen, of Schoen LLC, polled 600 Missouri voters between February 18 and 21 and the results, a news release notes, have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Continue for more details on the poll and the full announcement.

In the MAIG press release, Schoen says:

That 85 percent of Missouri residents want every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check speaks volumes about the changing public mood on guns. 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.

Supporters argue that universal background checks have proven results across the country in reducing domestic violence shootings, firearm suicides and illegal gun trafficking.

There are GOP officials across the state who aren't in favor of these kinds of limitations; for example, Republican Senator Roy Blunt recently said he doesn't want to stop neighbors from being able to trade shotguns and one representative said Newman's proposal is a disaster that unfairly burdens law-abiding gun owners. Opponents often slam polls like these as agenda-driven efforts, but Newman says she is confident the results are solid and reflect the interests of a vast majority of Missourians.

Casey Guernsey, a pro-gun Missouri legislator. - VIA FACEBOOK
  • via Facebook
  • Casey Guernsey, a pro-gun Missouri legislator.

"It was done by a bipartisan group," she says, referencing MAIG, which is made up of Democratic and Republican mayors across the country, including six from Missouri. "The poll is entirely credible."

The data is further reason that GOP leadership should stop blocking her bills, Newman argues.

"Missouri is stuck," she says.

Here's the full news release sent out yesterday.


Survey Released Today By Mayors Against Illegal Guns Finds Overwhelming Majority of Missouri Residents Favor Background Checks for All Gun Buyers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Polling data released today by Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows that likely voters in Missouri 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 85 percent of Missouri 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 Missouri, 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."

Under current federal law, licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks on potential buyers. Around 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers are conducted by unlicensed "private sellers" who are not required to conduct a federal check, however, and who often do business at gun shows and on the Internet - indicating that about 6.6 million guns are transferred in the U.S. every year with no background check for the buyer. This "private sale loophole" now allows dangerous people who are already prohibited from buying guns - including felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill - to avoid a background check by simply avoiding licensed dealers.

Evidence demonstrates that background checks save lives. For example, in the fourteen states that already require background checks for all gun sales:

• In 2010, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states - and 43 percent lower than in Missouri - while the number murdered by other means was nearly identical. • The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than other states - and 50 percent lower than in Missouri - even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate. • Gun trafficking is 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.

The Schoen LLC poll was conducted Feb. 18 through Feb. 21 of 600 voters. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Here is Newman's proposed legislation.

House Bill 187

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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