Shooting down the 80% lie

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 15, 2019

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and his liberal allies have repeatedly pointed to a Marquette University Law School Poll that showed 80 percent of Wisconsin voters support more gun-restriction laws.

Evers and the pollsters apparently haven’t been to the 24th Senate District.

The vast majority of voters in the district represented by Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) say they are opposed to the Democrats’ gun-control measures, at least according to hundreds of citizen communications Testin’s office received over a three-week period.

In fact, opposition to expanded universal background checks and so-called red flag laws in the 24th runs completely opposite to the polling numbers Evers loves to quote.

About 81 percent urged Testin to vote against the bills, according to constituent contacts received between Oct. 22 and Nov. 11. The information was obtained by Empower Wisconsin through an open records request.

I am urging you in the strongest possible terms to vote NO to both of the proposed bills,” wrote one Testin constituent, expressing his doubt about the Marquette poll numbers. “I do not believe either one will make any difference in reducing ‘gun violence’ and I further do not believe that either bill has anything even approaching 80% support. I think both of these bills are part of a ‘slippery slope’ and are serious government overreach.” 

Scores of citizens signed a form letter from gun-rights activists demanding Testin “Please oppose Gov. Evers’ Efforts to Violate Due Process & Second Amendment Rights.”

To be sure, several constituents filed more than one opposition comment with Testin’s office. But hundreds registered their opposition to the recent Evers-ordered special legislative session on the gun-control measures.

It’s not just Testin’s constituents. Other conservative lawmakers reported constituent support for gun control below 40 percent, and support for a red flag bill at 20 percent. 

Evers has pounded the 80-percent claim for weeks. Republican leadership said they had no intention of giving the governor his gun show. They didn’t.

Testin did receive an eyeful from constituents who support the legislation, but their ranks were small by comparison. Many signed form letters from gun-control advocates demanding Testin “respect the will of the people.”

Testin said he respects the will of his constituents, the vast majority of whom are strong supporters and defenders of the Second Amendment.

“Since Gov. Evers took office and said he was open to universal background checks, red flag laws, even to the so-called government buybacks of guns, our office has been flooded with contacts from constituents who have major concerns about what’s being proposed,” Testin said.

The concern from the letters Testin received is palpable.

“I am a disabled veteran who served my country with honor. I see states such as California expanding the red flag laws which I feel take way constitution (Sic) due process rights. I firmly believe that the 2nd amendment was included in the constitution to prevent illegally taking of ones right to bear arms,” one constituent wrote. 

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  1. Harry Townsend Avatar
    Harry Townsend

    Yes 80% supporting anti-gun legislation is a FARCE. I have heard that they only polled 385 people? also, where were they from? Milwaukee, Madison? were they people who vote. I would like to see the information from this poll .
    Remember two things; If they go after one thing, they will be back to take everything , one law at a time.
    Secondly, Criminals never follow law and they never state how they would control criminals.

  2. Barbara N Sackett Avatar
    Barbara N Sackett

    Please add me to your messages.

  3. Chester Brooks Avatar
    Chester Brooks

    Harry Townsend: False, they polled people from across the state as they do in every poll.
    They have the cross tabs viewable by region here, as the do for every poll:

    Respondents from every region were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposed gun laws. The lowest level of support came from the Green Bay area where 76% people supported the red flag proposal, 15% opposed it and the rest were unsure. The results were basically the same for the background law. All included respondents were registered voters.
    The poll even skewed conservative, with 144 respondents identifying as conservative or very conservative and only 95 identifying as liberal or very liberal. It polled more Republicans than Democrats, and far more rural voters than urban ones.

    Second, 385 people is a fine statistical sample in line with most polling measures, including Marquette’s past polls (such as the one last year that had Evers and Walker deadlocked a week before the election).

    Finally, to the author, since when does Testin care about constituent comments? 1028 people contacted his office last year opposing the lame duck laws and only 10 people contacted him supporting the laws. That 99% to 1%. Yet Testin voted for them anyway. Where’s your column about that? And how why do you declare the 80% statistic a lie? Which is more accurate – A random sampling of Wisconsin voters, or those motivated to contact a legislator about one particular hot-button issue? Disappointing click-bait headline to say the least Mr. Kittle.–dec—2018

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