Obama criticized for using dated, disputed gun stat to sell background checks

Posted by on Apr 03, 2013 at 8:27 am

During several speeches, Obama has said 40 percent of all gun purchases were made without a background check.

But that number is nearly two decades old and comes from a poll with a relatively tiny sample size. Gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, as well as The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” are calling out the president’s stat, saying his numbers on background checks need a background check of their own.

During a speech last week, Obama asked, “Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or her hand on a gun? Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check? Why wouldn’t we do that?”

The oft-cited figure, it turns out, was pulled from a 1997 study done by the National Institute of Justice. In the study, researchers estimated about 40 percent of all firearm sales took place through people other than licensed gun dealers. The conclusion was based on data from a 1994 survey of 2,568 households. Of those, only 251 people answered the question about where they got their guns.

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One Response to “Obama criticized for using dated, disputed gun stat to sell background checks”

  1. MT Geoff on 8/08/13 at 5:24 pm

    Only a very tiny percentage of guns are used in criminal activity. Even if the 40% figure were correct, and it isn’t, and even if all guns used in crimes came from the 40% of lawful sales that don’t have background checks, which they don’t, it would only prove that background checks aren’t all that necessary.
    Now if 2% of lawful gun sales didn’t have background checks, and if most guns used in crimes came from that 2%, you might have a case for universal background checks.
    There’s a lot to be said for having regular sellers of firearms check that the purchasers are not known to be prohibited from owning guns.
    Let’s be a little careful about mental health issues and who can or can’t buy a gun, though. The markers for who may be violent and who just has odd thoughts are awfully blurry. Mental health screening brings up a lot of false results, positive and negative alike.