Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 23, 2013

Guns acquired without background checks

By FactCheck.org

The Line: 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check.

The Party: Democratic gun-control advocates

Editor’s note: This is one of an occasional series called “Party Lines” that will highlight misleading talking points by both parties.

After the December mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., several Democrats advocating for stricter gun-control laws - including a law requiring universal background checks for gun purchases - took to using this talking point to support their case. In a Jan. 16 speech on gun violence, President Barack Obama, for example, claimed that “as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.” The president’s gun-control plan, “Now Is The Time,” also says that “studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement.”

But that figure is based on an analysis of a nearly two-decade-old survey of less than 300 people that essentially asked participants whether they thought the guns they had acquired - and not necessarily purchased - came from a federally licensed dealer. And one of the authors of the report often cited as a source for the claim - Philip Cook of Duke University - told our friends at Politifact.com that he has “no idea” whether the “very old number” applies today or not.

Even Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that the statistic may not be accurate in a speech at a mayoral conference on Jan. 17. Biden prefaced his claim that “about 40 percent of the people who buy guns today do so outside the … background check system” by saying that “because of the lack of the ability of federal agencies to be able to even keep records, we can’t say with absolute certainty what I’m about to say is correct.”

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest