Popularity Of Expanding Background Checks Confuses Even Seasoned Pundits

Even legendary journalists can fail to recognize the overwhelming popularity of expanding the background check system for firearms purchases. While it is now a well-known fact that the policy enjoys overwhelming support from the American public at large, some pundits remain unaware that it is also very popular in states that typically support conservative politicians.

NBC's Tom Brokaw is apparently one of those pundits. On the April 21 edition of NBC's Meet The Press, responding to the statement that the structure of the Senate explains why expanding background checks did not pass (an amendment had the support of 55 senators but needed 60 votes), Brokaw said that the proposal likely had very little support in the home states of Democrats who voted against the measure:

BROKAW: But in those states in which the senators voted against the background check, it's not even close to 90 percent in terms of wanting it, it's probably down in single digits in Montana and Arkansas and Alaska and North Dakota, the states that block it as Democrats. So you have to take that into consideration.

In fact, state polls in three of those four states found that at least 79 percent of respondents supported requiring a background check on every gun purchase (a broader measure than the one actually under debate).

According to a series of state polls commissioned by Mayors Against Illegals Guns, which supports the policy:

  • 84 percent of Arkansas voters support expanding the background check to cover every gun purchase. [Schoen LLC]
  • 79 percent of Montana voters support that policy. [Schoen LLC]
  • 94 percent of North Dakota voters support that policy. [Schoen LLC]

Another recent poll similarly found that 72 percent of Arkansas voters support expanding the background check system to gun shows.

Despite Brokaw's guess to the contrary, those who oppose expanding background checks cannot point to public opinion to bolster their position -- even in the reddest of red states