We already know that a majority of Democrats, independents and even a substantial majority of Republicans are in favor of expanded background checks. We also already know that card-carrying NRA-members and Tea Partiers think background checks are a good idea. But thanks to the diligent, independent research done by the social scientists over at the University of California at Davis’s Violence Prevention Research Program, we can add another important constituency to the pro-expanded background checks camp: gun dealers. The people who would have to actually carry out those background checks. The majority of the guys and gals around the country who make their living selling guns – gun dealers, pawnbrokers and gunsmiths – are in favor of more checks.
Here is what the NRA does not want you to know: 55.4% of gun dealers surveyed support comprehensive background check requirements and 37.5% strongly favor them. (pdf)
What is particularly amazing about this study is that it has never been done before. Independent researchers have never asked the actual people who would have to do the checking what they think of expanding background checks. So in 2011 the researchers at UC Davis decided that they would.
They got a hold of a FBI database of 55,020 licensed gun retailers. Then they whittled that list down to dealers who sell 50 or more firearms a year, and from there they took a random sample of 1,601 dealers across 43 states (data was not available for 7 states). That group got the survey – by mail! After they crunched the data they found that most people who got back with them supported checks.
What is also pretty amazing is that they did this survey before our most recent mass shootings – before Aurora, before Oak Creek, before Newton and before the Washington Navy Yard shooting.
Learn more about this study and look out for its publication soon in the Journal of Urban Health.