“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” —Mark Twain
Since January, Gun Grabbers have been tossing numbers around in support of why we need universal background checks. President Obama parroted the talking point back in January stating, “As many as 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check.”
The New York Times, USA Today, The LA Times, the Washington Post, The Brady Campaign, and a whole host of others have repeatedly made the claim. On January 24, however, Professor John Lott, in writing for National Review on Line, explains why this is a myth.
The Brady Act background checks currently prevent someone who buys from a federally licensed dealer from buying a gun if he has a felony, or in many cases a misdemeanor conviction, or has been involuntarily committed for mental illness. Prior to Brady, federal law merely required that people sign a statement stating that they did not have a criminal record or a history of mental problems under threat of perjury. Obama’s 40 percent claim makes it look like a lot of gun buyers are avoiding these checks.
This number (40%) Lott writes is lower, 36 percent, and insists the true number of guns “sold” without NICS checks are actualy closer to closer to 10 percent. That number did not come from actual records provied by BATFE, by a 251-person survey on gun sales conducted twenty years ago, during the Clinton administration.
As Lott reveals , more than three-quarters of the survey dealt with sales prior to the Brady Act that implemented NICS checks nineteen years ago. Moreover, the number of licensed dealers has decreased substantially in the last two decades and the way guns are sold now is substantially different that how they were sold twenty years ago.
Federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) today number about 118,000; while back in 1993 over 283,000 smaller dealers, many operating as home-based businesses, closed down often because of the higher costs for licenses.
Lott reveals, the survey asked buyers if they thought they were buying from a licensed firearms dealer. While all FFLs do background checks, those perceived as being FFLs were the only ones counted. Yet, there is much evidence that survey respondents who went to the very smallest FFLs, especially the “kitchen table” types, had no inkling that the dealer was actually “licensed.” Many buyers seemed to think that only “brick and mortar” stores were licensed dealers, and thus reported not buying from an FFL when in fact they did.
Included in this number were transfers such as inherited firearms or gifts from family members. Professor Lott also states that
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.
Obama made other fallacious claims such as telling that during the last 14 years background checks kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun.” Lott states the data shows many were “initial denials,” not people prevented from buying guns.
In 2010, the BATFE dropped over 94 percent of those “initial denials” after just preliminary reviews. Virtually all the remaining cases were dropped after further investigation by ATF field offices or the Department of Justice. Few of these “initial denials,” 62 people or about 0.1 percent, involved strong enough evidence to be consideration for prosecution. Just 13 pleaded guilty or were convicted.
Delays are undoubtedly just an inconvenience for most people buying guns. But for a few, it makes a huge difference in their ability to defend themselves against assailants. Indeed, my own research suggests these delays might actually contribute to a slight net increase in violent crime, particularly rapes.
Despite the continuum of lies, it is clear that criminal behavior with firearms is undeterred by NICS checks. As I’ve discussed in previous entries gun bans in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Newark, Los Angeles or across the pond in the UK, Ireland, Mexico or Australia criminals still manage to obtain guns and commit crimes with them.
And yet, just the other day I hear some News anchor spewing this same line. Frankly, it gets boring.