Rep. Kim Norton – the Rochester legislator who will be serving as Michael Bloomberg’s bag-woman in the coming session – has decided to try to put some numbers behind her increasingly strident and faith-based posturing on guns. She posted these “survey” “results” on her Facebook page.
How did it work? I did say it was a liberal trying to do numbers, right?
The results, to date-12/22/15, of a survey sent out by my office to 3 precincts in my district:
Three precincts? A whole three precincts?
Now, a legislative district has dozens of precincts. I don’t know exactly how many precincts there are in Kim Norton’s HD25B, but there are a total of 56 in the city of Rochester, and Norton has roughly half the city. Let’s be (what else?) conservative, and say she’s got 24 of ’em.
Her district also includes a grand total of 39,762 people, over 21 square miles. It’s a cozy district.
So Norton sent out a “survey” to three precincts – maybe 1/8 of her district. Which three precincts? What are their demographics? Do these three precincts represent her district? More importantly – why does Rep. Norton think these three precincts represent her district?
Anyway. So Rep. Norton mails out a survey to three selected precincts. And here’s what she got back:
1. Are you in favor of background checks for gun show sales, private gun sales, and gifts?
Yes (73) 78%
No (21) 22%
Forget the actual question for a moment. There were 94 answers.
Out of nearly 40,000 people in her district, and out of maybe 3-4,000 (I’m estimating) in the three precincts she favored with her survey, she got less than 100 answers.
That’s one quarter of one percent of her district.
And do you suppose those people are a representative sample of the precincts, much less the district? Or might they – just possibly! – have been an intensely self-selected sample of people who are motivated not only to pay attention to bulk mail from their DFL Representative, but also driven to fill out an utterly symbolic survey about an issue that Rep. Norton is wrapping herself around?
Remember – most people just don’t care that much. And if most conservatives are at all like me, they don’t open junk mail from legislators, especially legislators they disagree with.
So I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that of the .25 of 1% of Norton’s district that opened the mail, read it, were motivated to complete it and send it back to the Representative’s office, a pretty disproportionate chunk were motivated by supporting Rep. Norton’s agenda.
But I’m no professional…
…well, no. Wait. I am. I design samples for research as part of my job. So I may be a little harder to BS than the average bear.
(Am I wrong? Please, Rep. Norton; have your people call my people and set me straight. You have my number. Operators are standing by).
Sadly, Kim Norton’s typical supporter may not be so lucky.
2. Do you support requiring gun owners to register their guns with the local government?
No (27) 29%
You know what’d be interesting? If Rep. Norton had thrown in a question about whether the respondent was a gun owner.
I’m gonna take a flyer, here, and guess the answer would be about 30%.
3. With the goal of reducing suicides and impulse shootings, would you support extending the current seven day waiting period between a gun purchase and receipt of the gun?
Yes (64) 69%
No (29) 31%
By law, of course, there is a seven day waiting period.
In practice? Every store, federally licensed dealer and gun show in the state requires a “Permit to Purchase” issued by the police, or a Carry Permit issued by the state, to sell a handgun or “assault weapon”; they won’t sell without one, waiting period or no. The very idea of waiting periods is statistically dubious, to the point where even the Ninth Circuit has asked what’s the purpose, especially with someone who already owns firearms.
And the idea that “waiting periods” affect suicides is just a wierd fantasy, of course. Gun suicides – 2/3 of gun deaths – don’t occur at the end of the waiting period. They are disproportionally older, usually white males, usually socially isolated, usually depressed – and they’ve owned their guns for decades.
3a. If yes, how many days should the waiting period be?
10 Days (8) 13%
14 Days (18) 28%
28 Days (38) 59%
By this point in this exercise, I’m actually wondering why she didn’t put “eleventy-teen years” as an option.
5. Do you support a ban or restriction of sales on:
High Capacity Ammunition Clips of 10 or more bullets? (66) 69%
Exploding Bullets? (68) 72%
Assault rifles or Semi-Automatic guns? (59) 62%
Y’see, this is why so many Second Amendment activists have such contempt for their opponents’ arguments.
Imagine if you will someone arguing for regulation of healthcare, who proposes banning phrenology clinics, adding standards for blood leeches and healing crystals, and licensing sexual healing practicioners. Now, people who actually work in healthcare know that Phrenology was debunked 120 years ago, that leeches and crystals are irrelevant, and Sexual Healing was a Marvin Gaye song – and they get annoyed that someone is not only wasting their time arguing BS, but just a little disgusted that the legislator is finding people incurious enough to get on board to try to logroll the legislation.
10 rounds is not “high capacity”. “Semi automatic” does not equal “assault” (you awake yet, hunters and skeet shooters?). “Assault” does not mean “likely to be used in crimes”.
(Shaking my head, at a loss for civil words, awaiting a line about “guns that go pew pew pew”)
6. Do you believe gun safety and usage training should be required by all gun owners – even those who do not have a hunting license or permit to carry?
Yes (73) 81%
No (17) 19%
And even a lot of shooters will aver that that sounds reasonable.
Of course, in Chicago and DC we see the whammy of this approach; in Chicago, you have to take a range test to get a permit – but there are no firing ranges in Chicago.
It’s not a stretch to imagine Minnesota’s government requiring training – and forgetting to issue trainer’s licenses.
7. Given these two values, is it more important to:
control gun ownership?
protect the right of the people to own guns? (39) 44%
FYI – These survey results generally mirror those share by scientific polls done across the country.
I’d be interested in seeing the “scientific polls” Rep. Norton is referring to. But I am under no illusion she knows anything beyond “tacking ‘scientific’ onto a dubious assertion will gull a few of the gullible”.
She’s wrong, of course. Not that that matters to her, or to the audience she’s trying to reach.