Survey Exaggerates Support for Gun Bans

Public Safety Minister Bill BlairTrudeau tasks Blair with rifle "buy back" and banning handguns rather than gang violence

The recent Angus Reid survey exaggerates support for gun bans:

“Canadians appear to come to more consensus, regarding proposed policy responses. Six-in-ten Canadians (61%) say they would support an outright ban on civilian possession of handguns – something being pushed for by some of the country’s largest cities. The support level jumps to three-quarters (75%) when considering a ban on assault weapons.

“Further, there is significant support for proposals to strengthen elements of the licensing and purchase process, including expanded background checks and comprehensive tracking of gun sale records. This includes majority support from current and former gun owners.”

The key weaknesses of this survey:

Question wording is slanted to support government proposals,

Definitions of “assault rifle” and “high-capacity magazine” are incorrect and misleading,

Support for gun bans decreases with knowledge of current gun laws,

Sample selection is not representative [it is a panel of volunteers, not a random sample], and

Report inadequately points out the limitations of their findings.

Angus Reid conducts solid trustworthy surveys — they are among the best, if not the best, in Canada. This survey was not paid for by the Canadian Government. The high standards of ARI is demonstrated by their extraordinary willingness to make the details of their results and methodology widely available. Nevertheless, it has a few weaknesses that tend to overstate support for gun bans.


It is easy to get people to voice support for proposals that dominate the news; Global warming, gun control, immigration, generously giving money away. Whatever is trendy. Pollsters have long known about this problem and typically take steps to verify to assess the likelihood of the respondents acting on their stated opinions. These steps are missing in this survey report.

“Assault rifle” is incorrectly defined.

Even the police are adamant that what the survey calls “assault rifles” are not true assault rifles — because they are not capable of firing fully automatic.

Actual assault rifle in Canada are already prohibited.

The Colt and Daniel Defence rifles police use are exactly the same as can be bought by properly validated citizens for target use because they are not assault rifles.

Blue Line police force magazine Dec 15, 2017, p17, “Police carbines are not military-style ‘assault rifles’ because they have no full-automatic capability, but they are built to the same high standard as military firearms.”

High-capacity Magazines Poorly Explained

The description in the poll mentions high capacity magazines but did not clarify that these MUST be pinned to 5 rounds only. Nor did the brief explanation mention that being caught with any modification or illegal magazine is a serious indictable offence.

Another example: the classic question about banning handguns traditionally includes a phrase that allows properly vetted civilians to own handguns. For some reason, that phrase was not included. Past surveys have found support for properly vetted people owning guns.

Canadian gun law is exceptionally complex

Few gun owners really understand the laws. Few police do either.

Angus Reid made no attempt to assess the respondents’ knowledge of gun laws. Instead, respondents were merely exposed to a brief [and misleading] explanation of the firearms laws and regulations.

Note how respondents over estimate how knowledgeable they are about gun laws.

Support for Bans Higher Among Those Ignorant of Gun Laws

Support for gun bans and further restrictions on firearms licensees tends to be higher among those who admit to knowing less about gun laws. This suggests that the issue is low priority for the respondent, which implies that action on the basis of this opinion is probably unlikely.

Sample representativity

This survey is based on the Angus Reid volunteer panel — it is not a ‘random sample’ of Canadians. By definition, panels are only crudely representative samples. Panels are biased by only interviewing the motivated people who join this panel …. such volunteers are by definition not representative of rest of Canadians.

In fairness, random samples have other problems that bedevil their results as well. To know how representative the Angus Reid panel actually is I’d like to see the success rate for the ARI panel predicting elections vs random sampling polls. Representativity is as important as wording or how well informed the Rs actually are.

Do not confuse survey ‘opinions’ with willingness to take action.

Agreeing or disagreeing with a survey question need not indicate a strong opinion. Weak opinion support rarely translates into meaningful action.

How many of those who tell pollsters they believe that global warming is due to human causes actually pay more for eco or ‘green’ products? How many drive electric cars or support politicians who push fears about climate change? It’s the same with gun control.

In the detailed cross tabs (available at the Angus Reid website), Angus Reid looks at the how opinions vary with levels of the respondents’ claimed knowledge.

Gun control will not be one of the key voting issues for respondents who support gun bans;

but it will be for gun owners who oppose bans.


6 Comments on "Survey Exaggerates Support for Gun Bans"

  1. In response to the Angus Reed poll on gun bans:

    See what Insp. Max Waddell with the Winnipeg Police Service’s organized crime unit says about gun bans–finally a cop who has some common sense.

  2. Thank you JFGO for your relentless pursuit of the truth and unwaivering dedication for the the firearms industry, culture and people. GY6. Great video of one of the foremost knowledgeable advocates in the firearms industry, today schooling Wendy the CBC and all of Canada. Watch learn and know the truth, not the rederic that the Libs, meadia are falsely spreading and manipulating. Better yet try a firearm for yourself, just north of the GTA, all you need is government issue I’d and a friend. I did, and it changed my perception completely.

  3. You should ask Angus Reid about the $25 gift card they give you when you’ve completed a certain number of “surveys”, hardly representative when you’re “buying” your participants participation.
    I’m due for a $25 gift card on the surveys I’ve completed on subjects I have no interest or knowledge in.

    • Thanks for this useful information. Your comment about panel members completing surveys on subjects they have no interest in is particularly valuable. Thanks, again.

  4. I took this actual survey and also responded with descriptions of errors in descriptions of the survey itself and the misleading questions. If I did not know the current Canadian Laws the questions appeared to be geared to get a particular answer. I told them this but pollsters don’t respond, they just word things to get the answers they are paid to get. Angus Reid is no different than the rest of them. Some surveys I do I get tossed at the beginning because of my demographic, particularly anything political.

  5. Some of the Angus Reid Institute’s findings are at odds with those recently released from an online survey by the Government of Canada. While the government survey found close to four-in-five Canadians saying they did not believe more should be done to limit access to handguns or assault weapons, ARI found nearly the opposite. Important methodological differences explain this and are discussed later in the report

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