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School Walkout Wednesday Draws Headlines, But NRA Fights Back With Quiet Mail Campaign

The NRA is sending out surveys to conservatives — even nonmembers — with questions to stir up their ire about possible gun control laws

While students across the country are drawing attention for their school walkout Wednesday calling for gun control, the NRA is waging a quiet campaign by reaching out to conservative Americans in their mailboxes.

A new NRA survey going out to conservatives includes a question that aims to undercut a major argument in favor of gun control, while taking a page from President Trump to belittle the news media. The National Rifle Association’s “2018 National Gun Owner’s Action Survey” asks recipients if they agree that gun owners should be “forced to submit to mandatory gun registration.” But the question is phrased to suggest that laws requiring mandatory gun registration would roll back gun owners’ fundamental freedoms.

“The anti-gun media claims that most gun owners support mandatory, national gun registration,” the survey question reads. “Do you agree that law-abiding citizens should be forced to submit to mandatory gun registration or else forfeit their guns and their freedom?”

The technique is known as push polling — a marketing technique in which a question is phrased to manipulate opinions, rather than just track them.

The survey references reports based on several polls that find most Americans support stricter gun control laws. A Gallup poll from October 2017 found that 70 percent of respondents favor mandatory gun registration from police. Other more recent polls find that most Americans want more gun control laws. Time Magazine reported in February that a Quinnipiac University National Poll found 66 percent of respondents support stricter gun, while 31 percent do not. A CNN poll found that 70 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control laws, and a USA Today/Suffolk poll of 1,000 people found that 61 percent agreed “tightening gun-control laws and background checks would prevent more mass shootings in the United States.”

Some states require gun owners to register their guns, but not all of them.

The survey isn’t the first swing the NRA has taken at media coverage of gun control. The pro-gun group also has a channel on streaming services and online called NRA TV, which it advocates as an alternative to “bias” reporting on the subject of gun control. Ads for NRA TV have recently featured a figure wearing an NRA T-shirt, using a sledgehammer to smash a television set playing news stations such as CNN as they cover guns and gun control.

The debate over gun control in America has returned to the forefront of public consciousness following a school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Students who survived the shooting have campaigned for tougher gun control laws, and students all over the country Wednesday walked out of their schools to protest for stronger gun control. The campaign spearheaded by Parkland students will culminate in the March 24 “March for Our Lives” in Washington D.C.

After the Parkland shooting, survivors also took part in a CNN town hall discussion, where they put tough questions about gun control to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

The NRA’s survey, which was mailed to people on conservative mailing lists and not just its members, also included a question that referenced Donald Trump’s recent comments about abolishing “gun-free zones,” specifically around schools. A gun-free zone makes it illegal for a civilian to possess a gun in that area, including at schools.

“Should Congress and states eliminate so-called ‘gun free zones’ that leave innocent citizens defenseless against terrorists and violent criminals?” the survey asks.

Trump stated in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that Congress should abolish gun-free zones, which he said allow school shooters to attack schools because they there’s no risk of someone shooting back at them. He also suggested some teachers should be allowed to carry guns in schools if they have a concealed carry gun permit.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is set to head up Trump’s school safety commission, the White House announced Sunday. The Trump administration is also moving forward to work with states to provide some school personnel “rigorous” firearms training to allow them to carry guns in schools to combat school shooters.

The final questions of the survey ask respondents to authorize the NRA to use their survey answers “to fight for your fundamental right to own a firearm for shooting, hunting and personal protection,” and if respondents will “fight for your freedom by joining the NRA today.”

See the full survey below (click to enlarge).

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