President Obama says it. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it. The gun ban lobby says it. Amazingly enough, only Joe “Shotgun” Biden has been honest enough to suggest the number may not be accurate but that does not stop him from using it too. Ask any pol trying to enact a so-called “universal” background check and they will tell you we have to do it because 40% of all firearm sales don’t undergo background checks. The Washington Guardian is the latest to throw cold water on that argument:
The claims that gun sales made without background checks comprise “more than,” ”as many as,” ”nearly” or “about” 40 percent of all gun sales are rooted in a poll looking broadly at gun ownership in America. Sponsored by the Justice Department through a grant to the Police Foundation, the poll’s principal relevance today is as a snapshot of the way things were when it was taken — 1994.
Economist John Lott has addressed this in great detail recently:
But the high figure comes primarily from including such transactions as inheritances or gifts from family members. Putting aside these various biases, if you look at guns that were bought, traded, borrowed, rented, issued as a requirement of the job, or won through raffles, 85 percent went through FFLs; just 15 percent were transferred without a background check.
If you include these transfers either through FFLs or from family members, the remaining transfers falls to 11.5 percent.
We don’t know the precise number today, but it is hard to believe that it is above single digits.
It’s no wonder polls show a large number of the public support background checks for “all gun purchases” because they think a lot of sales escape checks. Which explains why Obama et al keep using the 40% number – it fits their narrative and helps mislead the public.