I first asked that question on JYB in January 2006.

Here’s the answer: Whenever the Times gets into a fix, it reaches into its bag of tricks. And its bag of tricks is filled with dishonest reporting and commissioning polls to back up its editorial points of view rather than pursue facts wherever it might lead.

One of its editorial points of view is that gun control measures are always good, and opponents of gun control measures are always bad. A week after the V Tech massacre, the Times reached into its and pulled out the latter trick: Using a poll to push its point of view.

Most Americans are in favor of stricter gun control, but few say it would have done a lot to prevent the shootings last week at Virginia Tech, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Two-thirds of the adults surveyed Friday through Sunday said the laws covering the sale of handguns should be stricter and 27 percent said the laws should be kept as they are now. Only 5 percent said the laws should be less strict.

This question has been asked in the past with similar results. In August 1999, a CBS News poll taken almost four months after the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, 64 percent said laws covering the sale of handguns should be stricter. Men and women are equally in favor of making the sale of handguns more difficult. Three-quarters of Democrats support stricter handgun laws, compared with about half of Republicans and 60 percent of independents.

The public does not support banning handguns altogether, the poll found. Thirty-two percent of the public approves of a ban on the sale of handguns, with the exception of thoseneeded for law enforcement, with 64 percent opposed. This is basically unchanged from the last time the question was asked by CBS News in 2000.

Entertainingly, the Times poll post gets excoriated in comments. I hate when that happens. Well, I hate when it happens to me. Some of the commenters note an unscientific ABC poll taken at the same time and came up with the opposite result. It’s unscientific as I said, but it lines up a little better than the Times’ poll does with a couple of known knowns.

First known known, the Democrats as a party are running away from gun control. If the issue is really such a winner as the Times’ poll suggests, wouldn’t they be running as a party to embrace more gun control?

Second known known, 35 states have passed concealed carry laws in the past decade or two. They are passing these laws because they are popular, and these laws are popular because they increase the average citizen’s chances of being able to protect himself with a firearm if he needs to. If the Times’ poll is right, wouldn’t concealed carry be less popular?

What the Times has done here is shoddy work. They have opportunistically fed off of a national tragedy to create, as opposed to report, a story that pushes their point of view, and not truth.