During a press conference on Friday, Biden claimed, “The folks who own weapons, the folks who own guns, they support universal background checks.”
“The majority of them think we should not be selling assault weapons,” he added.
The Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler said, “There’s plenty of evidence to support his first statement — universal background checks. But do most gun owners also support a ban on selling assault weapons?”
He went on to note that polls have found that roughly 80% to 90% of Americans support “enhanced” background checks to buy a firearm. He added, “With those kinds of numbers, gun owners are clearly supporters.”
Kessler referenced a 2019 Washington Post-ABC News poll that found that 88% of respondents in households with guns supported stricter background checks while 91% of respondents in households without guns said the same.
However, he turned his attention to Biden’s claim that a majority of gun owners support banning the sale of assault weapons, “But in that same survey, households with guns and those without guns split over an assault weapons ban. The question was: ‘Would you support or oppose a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons in this country? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?'”
Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they would support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, while 41% said they would oppose it.
Among households with guns, 43% said they would support such a ban, while 53% said they would oppose such a measure. By contrast, among non-gun owning households, 70% said they would support a measure while 27% oppose it.
As Kessler wrote:
“Interestingly, 32 percent of gun households strongly supported an assault weapons ban, compared with 8 percent that strongly opposed it. Forty-five percent said they ‘somewhat opposed’ a ban, which is why the opposition ended up with a majority. So it’s clear that a substantial percentage of gun owners strongly support a ban — but not a majority, as Biden claimed.”
Kessler also noted that “many people are confused by the term ‘assault weapons.’ An assault rifle, by definition, means that the weapon is fully automatic.”
“But various proposals to ban assault weapons include a variety of semiautomatic weapons, such as the AR-15, that accept a detachable magazine and have what lawmakers define as at least one military feature,” he added.
Finally, Kessler said, “We searched high and low for a survey that would show that a majority of gun owners support a ban on assault weapons.”
However, “We could find only a non-probability survey that doesn’t meet Washington Post standards.”
“Numerous surveys show that a vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, support enhanced background checks. But Biden went too far in claiming that a majority of gun owners also support a ban on assault weapons. The White House could not point to a poll that supported the claim, while a recent Post poll found that a narrow majority opposed it,” he added.
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