Gun control is one of those culture-wars issues on which liberals and conservatives often don't even seem to be speaking the same language, let alone coming to consensus. Gun owners -- especially the hard-core enthusiasts who belong to the National Rifle Assn. -- are often thought to oppose any restriction on their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Except that, according to a recent poll, they don't.
The gun-control debate is replete with suspect polls and fishy statistical analyses, so when Mayors Against Illegal Guns set out to survey gun owners, it knew it would be accused of putting a liberal slant on the questions. That's why the group, a coalition of 500 mayors started in 2006 by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, hired a conservative pollster to do the job: Frank Luntz, an occasional commentator on the Fox News Channel. Luntz surveyed 401 NRA members and 431 gun owners who don't belong to the group, and came up with some surprising results.
When asked whether they supported or opposed a "proposal requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns," 69% of the NRA members and 85% of the nonmembers were in favor. This goes to the so-called gun-show loophole, which allows used-gun merchants to sell firearms without doing the background checks that are required when selling new guns. Attempts in Congress to close this loophole have died after meeting strong opposition from the NRA.