80% of Cops Say No Effect from More Gun Background Checks; Is Survey Accurate?


The Washington Post questioned a National Rifle Association ad asserting that “80 percent of police say that more background checks will have no effect.” The statistics came from PoliceOne.com, a web site that caters to law enforcement that is part of San Francisco-based Praetorian Group, a family of Web sites for first responders. The site said it was a survey of law enforcement professionals, but the Post says it was an opt-in survey, promoted on the website and through e-mails to 260,000 newsletter subscribers.

Jon Hughes, Praetorian's vice president for content, said that a question at the beginning, asking whether a survey-taker was a current or former law enforcement member, was intended to weed out people not connected to law enforcement. The reported membership of PoliceOne is 400,000, so the response rate among members is just 3.75 percent. There are some 765,000 local and state law enforcement officers, not to mention federal officers. This makes it all but impossible to claim that the survey is representative of law enforcement opinions on gun-control, and Hughes conceded that “the survey was not scientific by definition,” saying “nowhere in our release did we claim to be speaking on behalf of U.S. law enforcement in its entirety.”

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