LIE: 40 Percent of Guns Lack Background Checks

Houston_Gun_Show_at_the_George_R._Brown_Convention_Center
English: Houston Gun show at the George R. Bro...
English: Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center Español: “Houston Gun Show” en el Centro de Convenciones George R. Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Claim: 40% of guns sales lack background checks.

The liberal left keeps repeating this claim but is it really true.

Remarks by the President and the Vice President on Gun Violence | The White House (Jan 16, 2013)

The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years that’s kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun.  But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.  That’s not safe.  That’s not smart.  It’s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.

This was parroted by news outlets and organizations all across the country and by Vice President Biden on January 17 to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Now let’s look at where this figure comes from.

The stale claim that 40 percent of gun sales lack background checks – The Washington Post

The White House says the figure comes from a 1997 Institute of Justice report, written by Philip Cook of Duke University and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago. This study is based on data collected from a survey in 1994, just the Brady law requirements for background checks was coming into effect. (In fact, the questions concerned purchases in 1993 and 1994, while Brady law went into effect in early 1994.) In other words, this is a really old figure.

The data is available for researchers to explore at the Interuniversity consortium on political and social research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. Digging deeper, we find that the survey sample was just 251 people. (The survey was done by telephone, using a random-digit-dial method, with a response rate of 50 percent.) With this sample size, the 95 percent confidence interval will be plus or minus 6 percentage points.

So the data is older than the NICS check system. The question was “did you buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer?”. Why are they using this figure to show the percentage of background checks today. It would be like going to 1930 and asking people if they bought their car from a dealer or individual then using that to show the percentage that wore seat belts. Seat belts were not even offered in cars in America until 1949.

The 95% confidence interval was +/- 6 points so the number could have just as easily been rounded down to 30% as it was up to 40. The lasted estimate published for the number of guns bought at gun shows was 3.9%. Let us just go by liberal logic for a second. If the same numbers hold true today as they did in 1993-1994 when the survey was conducted then the actual number of guns that are sold with no background check is 1.17 to 1.56 percent, not 40 percent. Add on top of that, some states have mandatory background checks at gun shows already. This would lower the figure. Take into account that many of these are people buying guns for their spouses, children or other family members and the figure gets even lower.

Now why are they trying to close the non-existent “gun show loophole”. How would it even work? How would they even know if you had sold your personal property without tracking the guns themselves. That’s right, the whole point of the universal background check system is gun registration. So you can believe Obama or not when he said he would not be coming for your guns.