Those who know me understand my deep and passionate hatred for the misuse of statistics. So when the President starts arguing for increased gun control based on numbers that wouldn’t be acceptable in a high school statistics course, I start throwing things at the flat screen. Thankfully, I also have a wonderful outlet called TTAG where I can outline exactly how full of crap that 40% figure that’s getting thrown around is . . .

One of the current focal points of the push for more gun control laws is that universal background checks. Ostensibly, it’s sold as a way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have them. But since mandatory background checks would be useless without a national gun registry, it makes me think that something else is afoot. Nevertheless, the argument that civilian disarmament proponents have latched onto is that 40% of all gun sales are currently completed without a background check. Even President Obama has used the figure.

Studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from [background checks]. (Jan. 16, 2013)

Studies? Really? Exactly which studies would those be? Turns out that this figure is based on a 1994 study by The Police Foundation that surveyed a whopping 251 people.

To give you how statistically bogus a sample size that small is, in order to be meaningful to 95% with a confidence interval of +/- 1, you would have needed to survey, at a minimum, 9,604 people at 1994’s U.S. population total. In this case, the confidence interval was more than +/- 6. That means the study wasn’t even approaching mere plausibility in terms of accuracy.

Let me make this even better. According to a recent analysis of the exact same study, the Washington Post concluded that the study actually indicates that private sales account for AT MOST 22% of sales. In 1994. So, even if we accept that the study is accurate (which it ain’t), the way in which it is being used in the media and by our own President is absolutely incorrect.

This is an abuse of statistics to a level that would make my high school math teacher want to chuck erasers at people.

The survey is so old that it can no longer be plausibly applied to the current situation, especially given that so many laws have been passed since this survey was completed that further restrict the ability for people to obtain a firearm without a background check.

Even setting aside that fact for a second, the results themselves are being misrepresented. The survey DOES NOT say that 40% of gun sales happen without a background check. It at most indicates 14 – 22% of sales are conducted in that manner. Of course, that’s +/- 6 percentage points due to the minuscule sample size.

This survey has nothing whatsoever to do with the current state of affairs in the United States. It’s an outdated, poorly designed study, one that would be laughed out of high school, and yet it it’s being held up as gospel in the gun control debate. It’s also indicative of just how far and how deep the gun control activists will go to find something — ANYTHING — that backs up their claim. And they have to resort to bogus number such as this because they know that results from all of the current, valid studies go against them.

Lies, damned lies and statistics. Especially in the hands of politicians, and TV hosts who don’t like doing the leg work to check their facts.

## 75 Responses to “4075 of Gun Sales Made by Private Sellers” is An Outright Lie

1. Chas says:

Someone also needs to debunk the media’s claim that 83% of gun owners support a universal background check as well as that bogus 90% of the American people.

• Internet Guy says:

Even if those numbers are true, it’s no excuse to write egregious legislation and claim that those numbers apply to the bill as well. If people knew what was in Schumer’s bill, they may hesitate supporting it.

• Pyrotek85 says:

Those numbers could be ‘true’ depending on the sample size and the way they ask the questions. Also, the knowledge of the respondents has to be taken into account, as your average person might not know what currently is required.

Again, they’re basically lying since they just throw out percentages without any information of how the poll was conducted, which makes the numbers worthless.

• Internet Guy says:

Yes, that’s true. Taking polls too seriously is never a good idea.

• Pyrotek85 says:

I practically ignore them. Even with a good sample size you can steer the results the way you want with just the wording. Without the methodology used it’s garbage.

It’s like your math or science homework in school. If you don’t show your work you don’t get credit, even if the answer was right. You have to demonstrate how you arrived at your conclusions.

• Joey S says:

same polls that said romney was going to win

• That’s exactly it. I believe one of the questions was, “Do you believe the mentally ill and felons should have access to firearms”, or some such. If you answer in the affirmative (and most would), then you are a supporter of universal background checks.

Its the bait and switch rhetoric that angers me so much! If i don’t support your legislative gun grab, its NOT because I don’t want children to be safe at school – It IS because I believe your legislation will do NOTHING to accomplish your stated goal, while it WILL remove MY liberty. They either don’t understand this, or they are just willfully using the disparity to pain us as monsters.

Its dishonest, and contemptuous.

• 16V says:

I’m pretty sure your first para doesn’t read the way you meant it to.

• Blehtastic says:

I support universal background checks, with the caveat that the NICS, the seller, and the buyer, and anyone else with knowledge of the transaction are prohibited from keeping records of the personal identification of the parties involved in the transaction once it is complete.

It should be illegal for anyone, including FFL’s and government agents not in possession of a warrant to record anything but non-personally identifying accounting information about a gun sale. But making sure you’re not selling to a criminal or a crazy is great.

And that’s how they get to 90%

• Dave says:

Thats the great thing about the US, you can have your thoughts {no matter how flawed} and we can have ours. Just a little info, the universal backgroud check bill is flawed. If you read the complete bill, it violates are constitutional rights, according to the Bill Of Rights! Theres underlying info the government tries to hide. LIKE THE CLAUSE ABOUT UNIVERSAL REGISTRATION!! Which in every country that has inacted such legislaturere, has led to GUN CONFISCATION!!

• Phillip says:

Unfortunately right now, records ARE kept. Did you know that every gun sold by a retailer today has a little envelope inside in the case, and in that envelope is a spent shell casing? Do you know what that is from? Let me tell you:

When the manufacturer test-fired the gun to make sure it worked after manufacturing it, they kept the lead bullet and made a physical, forensic record of the firing pin marks on the shell casing, the ejection mechanism marks on the shell casing, AND the rifling marks on the bullet itself. The serial number of the gun that made these marks is also recorded with that forensic information, and when that gun is sold at a retailer, the buyer’s name is attached to that forensic information in case a crime is ever committed with a gun that matches the markings on the shell casings and/or bullet.

Simply put: we’re being tagged as gun owners in case a crime is ever committed with our guns, and the police may come knocking some day. Eventually the science of identifying “unique” markings on the weapons will be debunked, and it’s only a matter of time as more and more guns are manufactured that someone will be falsely accused of murder or some other crime because of “unique” markings.

Like DNA…although the odds are astronomically large, we have indeed reached a global population level that scientifically says each living person today does, in fact, have an exact genetic twin living somewhere in the world, born from different parents. Sounds amazing or hard to believe, but it is true, and gun rifling will eventually have their own “genetic twin”.

While I agree with everything else I’ve read on this page, your comments about forensic castings at the manufacturer and identical twins somewhere else in the world only suggest to me you may need to be on meds. I never say something like that as a cut, either. I really mean it. I work with the mentally Ill and your level of delusion approaches that ballpark. I realize it’s more likely you are just gullible and believe things that fit your frightened world-view without verification (like the anti-gun sheep do, just with different beliefs you are supporting). Either way, I mean quite sincerely and caringly, you may not be well.

I’m also telling you this because your comment is exactly the kind of thing that gives anti-gunners support when they say we’re the irrational ones. It makes us all look bad. For instance, what you said about using spent casings to connect a particular crime to a particular gun was absolutely right …and anyone who should have been persuaded by your accurate comment about that issue would have decided the comment was made by a nut and dismissed it the moment they read your DNA comment. There isn’t a mention of that anywhere except from a few people like you.

In addition, if manufacturers were making such castings a lot more crimes would be getting solved a lot faster. Police & prosecutors must present their reasoning to many, a grand jury, jury, judge, media. If they can’t say how they went from spent casing to suspect-A they have no case. Anyone who needed to be convinced by other things you said would have seen that and dismissed your whole message.

2. No different a lie than the 90% of guns in Mexico from
US gun stores trotted out and repeated by Hillary after being debunked.

What surprises me is he doesnt have a useful idiot like Susan Rice to roll this turd past the Sunday “news” outlets. Wheels of the bus are jammed is my guess.

3. They consider anyone who is not in the government as a ‘private seller’.

Which brings up an interesting question…..

….who is doing the other 60% of weapons sales?

4. Brian says:

One quibble: I’m not certain a UCB would require a federal firearms registry to be effective. It depends on how one defines effective.

If what we want is a tool to allow a seller to make reasonably certain that the buyer is not disqualified a registration is not necessary, all you need is a bit of information at that time with no real record keeping requirement.

If you want a means to prosecute disqualified people who try to buy guns from a private seller you would need some record of rejected sales, but only for the duration of the statute of limitations of the crime (usually five years from the date of the crime). After a charge is time-barred the information is no longer useful and could be destroyed.

Also, if you use a commercial intermediary (to shield the seller’s identity from being exposed to the NICS system) and limit the ATF’s access to only what they can get a warrant for (as opposed to the yearly inspections of bound books), combined with a mandatory record destruction regime, you could mitigate much of the risk of a registry developing.

People who justify registry-like record keeping by the government as the only was a UCB could be “effective” just want a registry and see a UCB as the means to an end.

None of this is to say a UCB, even without a registry, is good policy of course.

• J says:

Exactly! The UBC, is actually in use at this time. Now maybe the name they are using to describe it is not precisely that, but, I can tell you I have not been able to purchase a firearm from any FFL holder – for years now without a phone call and related background check.

This call and its background check have not been added to national registry (at least that has been admitted to) and yet, the seller was able to know my current status. More than that, they were told whether or not they could legally sell to me.

There is much massaging of figures and the lexicon on both sides that is generally unforgivable. The bottom line is, the second amendment is a right – an absolute, unalienable right and any attempt by any level of governance to cordon that right, deplete the supply or shorten the list of “available” weapons for personal use is constitutionally illegal.

Massaging terms or adding where something isn’t will probably incite anger and a response, but it will not legitimately settle an argument.

If Congress is attempting to push legislation through that would create a UBC, one has to wonder how they reconcile the new one with the one currently in place. Here agree, they are up to no good. But, if we are trying to tell folks that a UBC automatically means, a registry, I would submit we may already be in trouble.

• Brian says:

If politics dictate that a UCB will get passed it would be wise to have a well designed one ready to go. Not only does that minimize the damage but it provides an opportunity to put the antis in an uncomfortable position of having to justify all the extraneous pernicious crap their bills are filled with.

• blakdawg says:

Ok, so let’s say we’ve got “universal background checks” in place, and I’m a felon who wants to buy a gun.

Let’s explore the implications:

1. I buy/create a fake ID and use that to buy a gun from a private seller. The fake ID doesn’t have to be good enough to fool a cop or a bartender or a liquor store, just good enough to give the seller plausible deniability. If the system is set up to “fail open”, so to speak, as long as there are no disqualifying events noted “in the system” for the name/DOB/SSN/whatever on my fake ID, then the transaction goes through, which means it’s still pretty easy to buy a gun. Of course, there aren’t going to be any disqualifying events, because I just made those numbers up, or got them via identity theft and printed them on a card with my picture on it.

If the system is set up to “fail closed”, then if there isn’t other information about my fake name/DOB/SSN in the system, my purchase will be denied, which means that this route is closed to bad guys, but it also means that people who don’t have a big database/credit history enough to generate a computerized dossier won’t be able to buy guns until they jump through a lot of hoops or otherwise create that dossier.

2. I have a family member/friend buy the gun for me, and then just hand it over to me. If the system isn’t keeping track of *gun* registrations, and I get caught with that gun later on, there’s no way to walk back up the chain and prosecute the straw purchaser, or the guy who sold to him, because nobody knows who’s “supposed” to own that gun. What’s the downside to being the straw purchaser, or reseller, in that scenario, if there’s no significant risk of prosecution, or even being identified?

So the bare “universal background check” – unless it’s connected to a big database which matches people and guns – isn’t going to do much to keep bad guys from getting guns in the first place, and it’s not going to help us prosecute the people who helped the bad guys get guns after they’re caught.

This is just another flavor of “well, it won’t actually change things, but we’ll feel better after we create a giant expensive bureaucracy that we impose on other people.”

If we expect this to really limit the flow of guns to bad guys, it’s going to have to be a California-style gun registry, where there’s a big list of guns and the people who are supposed to own them, with forms to be filled out when guns change hands. And then if a gun turns up in the wrong place, the cops can go have a chat with the person who was last connected to that gun in the database. Or if the government decides that nobody should own that kind of gun, or that some person shouldn’t own any guns, they’ll know where to send the gun confiscation squads. Which are actually a thing, here, in California.

• Dave says:

Thats why i dont live in a NOT FREE POLICE STATE, like CA or NY. My suggestion, MOVE!! These politicians are undermining the very fabric this countries built apon.. If you think guns should be done away with to make people safer, then why do all the politicians have trained armed to the teeth guards, I guess its not as safe as they want you to beleive.

• Brian says:

1. A mismatch of the name and ssn/dob etc. which if you just made up the numbers is likely, could be a fail state. Ensuring that the buyer really is the buyer (and really wants to buy a gun) is a tricky issue from a privacy perspective, but was outside the scope the registry comment since we would need a registry of people, not just guns (which I guess we have).

2. I think most of these issue could be addressed with limited record retention (the 5 year option). That provides the police a way to trace a gun when the owner has already been identified and is the subject of a warrant. This lets them see if the gun was sold, or sold to them, in the last five years.

If it was sold in the last five years but not to them the buyer would be know and could be investigated for a strap purchase, if the gun was sold to the owner and the owner passed the check and then went bad, well what are you going to do.

The two areas where there is not information are sales more than five years ago and black market transactions (the seller did not run a check)

For sales more than five years back the statute of limitations to the seller would have already passed and he couldn’t be prosecuted anyway. For pure black market transactions, nothing but a prohibition level war on guns is going to dry that up, and even that won’t succeed.

• blakdawg says:

Sorry if I’m being dense. Let’s say we have UBC’s in place. The cops pick up a felon and he’s in possession of a gun, serial # 123456.

How do they know whose records to subpoena to punish the guy who sold/transferred the gun to the felon if they don’t already have a database that says #123456 is owned by John Smith of 1234 Pine St., etc?

And if we’re depending on ordinary people to be meaningful parts of the regulatory apparatus, aren’t we going to run into the “boating accident”/”dog ate my homework”/5th Amendment problem pretty quickly?

My impression is that this is the system we’ve got now with FFL’s, so we’re basically just saying that everyone needs to act like an FFL with respect to background checks and recordkeeping/record retention..?

Yeah, we can pass that law if we want to, but my experience working with the public is that Joe Sixpack often can’t find any of his own important documents (e.g., birth certificate, DD214, marriage license, divorce decree, will/trust, 1099’s to prepare a tax return), much less some bill of sale from a gun he sold 4 1/2 years ago.

I *really* don’t see it doing any good in terms of actually preventing anything bad, nor catching bad guys after the fact. I guess maybe it’s not so awful if that’s what it takes to distract the anti-gunners from more burdensome regulation, but I think it’s totally ineffective in terms of preventing or punishing crime, and mostly creates an opportunity for honest but disorganized people to fall into a paperwork trap.

• Brian says:

I am assuming the use of commercial intermediaries (either FFLs or companies that specialize in background checks and have access to run NICS checks [lets call them UCB Providers or UCBPs]) to run the check, instead of the private seller directly interfacing with the NICS system. If the cops get a felon with gun number 12345, and they get a warrant to pull records they can go to the UCBPs and say “do you have a record for gun 12345? If so I want it here is my warrant”. If a record exists the UCBP provides it to the cops and they are on there way, if not it was either because the check occurred more than five years ago or no check was run because the person who provided the felon the gun was willing to knowingly sell/give to a disqualified person.

I agree that if the only/dominant concern was tracing guns a gun registry would be required, but even that would not be 100% effective thanks to smuggling, zip guns, and the fact that maintaining that type of system is probably prohibitively expensive and a really bad idea on privacy as well as avoiding confiscation grounds.

However I don’t think that should be the standard for effectiveness. The evil people claim they are trying to address is the prohibited person buy a glock in the parking lot of a gun show from an unwitting seller. A non-registry system could be fairly effective for allowing that seller to avoid selling to the prohibited person. Does that stop the prohibited person from getting a gun? No, there remains theft and the black market. It might lead to some arrests/convictions of prohibited people trying to get guns, but that is dependent on the DOJ prosecuting, which they have been loath to do. It might drive the price of black market guns up marginally, pricing some lower end prohibited people out of the market, but that is dubious.

I agree that UCBs are not the cure alls people claim to be, and that the marginal value of preventing that parking lot sale is likely not worth the cost, but if politics dictate that something called a UCB be created I think you could do it in a way that avoids a registry while giving the seller a tool to avoid a bad sale, and would rather that version go forward then a stealth registry.

• Mini-14 says:

In Chicago, none of that matters. Most of the rifles used by gangs are imported from Russia, right into ohare airport where Nigerian cab drivers bring to the west side.

So, whats the point?

• Michael C says:

I think what he means is that a federal registry is the only feasible means of forcing compliance with the UCB. I agree with him on that point, because if all guns are registered it will be easier for the government to detect sales not made with the UCB. I personally don’t support a UCB because I know it won’t and can’t do anything to stop crime. There are two reasons for this; (1) NO background check, no matter how thorough, can stop the first time offender from purchasing a firearm prior to the offence, and (2) career criminals will simply find ways around the background checks.

• Brian says:

I see the argument, but I think a UCB is only as good as seller compliance, and realistically a registry is only as good as owner compliance (see Canada), the same people who will play ball with the latter will play ball with the former, making the marginal value of the latter for enforcement minimal.

• ” I’m not certain a UCB would require a federal firearms registry to be effective.”

There are only TWO ways to make any background check work and they both involve some kind of registry.

1) either you have a universal ID system that plugs into the justice system, allowing your background to be checked at the point of purchase.
2) or, a gun registry of every firearm, that can be crosschecked when your name pops up as a felon or mentally ill, triggering a purchase block and a confiscation.

The first is scary and easily abused with little chance for due process. The second is scarier and will most certainly be abused to create a de facto gun ban/confiscation at the drop of a hat.

No thanks, on both counts.

• Brian says:

1. describes the current NICS system with the seller taking the place of the FFL. The potential privacy abuse issues of “sellers” running people through as buyers without that person’s knowledge or permission are real, but there may be ways around them.

2. Agreed, pretty terrible.

Again, not saying a UCB is a good idea, for the record.

• JimD says:

You’re not thinking of all the ways the police might want to enforce compliance. With a registry, they can say “ok, Brian has two assault rifles and two pistols with hi-cap magazines. Let’s go to his house and have him prove to us he still has all of these guns.” Any visit by the police could end up in this scenario, for “officer safety.” We don’t want the possibility of this coming up.

On the other hand, if a prospective purchaser could come to my house, punch in some identifying info to a website, and I get back a confirmation that they’re eligible to purchase, I’d be happy to use it. Using a current CCW permit is probably 98% of the way there, except in the case where someone’s permit is revoked after it’s been issued.

• Brian says:

If I am the seller: 1. The transaction does not provide evidence of the weapons I have, just the weapons I had until I sold it. 2. my interaction with the system can be abstracted via the use of an intermediary to run the check. If the intermediary is the one that has my information and the government needs a warrant to get it I will not be subject to a info dragnet.

As for the buyer, obviously they will be identified at some level to the government via the check, and if there was no record keeping requirement post sale that system (similar to what Texas uses as part of the CCW application process) could work. Unfortunately I’m sure there will be a record keeping requirement for at least the statute of limitations for crimes relating to the transfer of the firearm. This is where using an intermediary as record keeper could be handy to prevent the ATF from doing spot checks of individuals.

5. I served with Private Sellers in the military many years ago, and there’s no way that he’s making 40% of all gun sales. 1% maybe, but that’s the absolute max.

• Pantera Vazquez says:

That’s because General Trader is the real culprit.

• Don says:

Plus their is no way he is still a Private right?

• Bill in IL says:

• rhampton says:

Perhaps they were confused after interviewing Private Public, Major Minor, and General Specific?

6. Not Jimbo says:

Has anybody shopped for a used gun lately? Even if 40% of gun sales are private, most of the sellers will only transfer to an FFL.

• Every experience I have had with a private gun sale (in Texas) involved being asked by the seller if I had CCL. In other words, all the sellers I have dealt, with will only sell to a CCL holder, thus insuring they are selling to someone who has been vetted already. And yes, all out of state purchases have to go through an FFL anyways.

7. Pantera Vazquez says:

ANY checking of the facts would be anathema to the anti-2a crowd, but that is to be expected if the available facts fly in the face of a given position. The intent is to achieve a given goal irrespective of the route chosen-hence lies, half truths and fudged figures. The fact that the FBI has recent figures available, and these figures demonstrate that the numbers are dropping should be a wakeup call to the antis-but alas that would nip their case in the bud, so let’s stick to figures that support the anti argument, truth not withstanding.

8. I really wondered why Wayne LaPierre let that 40% stat slide on Meet the Press last Sunday when asked a question by David Gregory. Instead he answered a different question than was asked and looked shifty in the process.

• Brian says:

I wonder if this is (or should be) LaPierre’s last rodeo. He seems off his game and ill suited to the winning hearts and minds phase we are going to need to pursue to avoid serious problems in the next decade or so.

9. David says:

Yeah you guys havent figured out whats going on yet??? Our political leaders are straight up LIEING TO US!!!!! Obama’s broke so many rules of office, not to mention his oath of office which clearly states, He will protect the constitution against any threat , foreign or domestic!!!
When will we see him face charges??? And dont get me started on Asshat BLOOMBERG, what a natzi control phreak, even other countries are making fun of him and admin. What a phreaking joke this government of lefties we have! Anybody remember all the service men and women who have given there lives to defend our freedoms, so that our own president can take a huge shit on all of there sacrifices!! This makes me sick!!

10. JustLeaveLawfulGunOwnersAlone says:

when did the brady bill get signed into law, when did it go into effect?
a significant portion of the original poll included a time frame prior to NICS.

• blakdawg says:

The Brady Bill went into effect 2/28/2004; but it was originally proposed in 1987 and signed on 11/30/1993, so I would expect there was probably a surge of transactions prior to its effective date, for people who wanted/needed to get something done before the new law started. A survey that looked at behavior right around the time of enactment/effectiveness would likely overstate private party transfer activity.

11. Pete S says:

Hopefully now that the gun research moratorium has been lifted, we can see a new more accurate < 40% number.

• Max says:

Don’t hold your breath. The whole “gun research” community is very much anti-gun. They will throw out “studies” and “statistics” that will make your head spin. They’ll make this study (the one we are discussing here) look like a tempest in a tea cup in comparison. Be prepared for “studies” that find that 99% of people are for stricter gun control. It will be that slanted.

• SAS 2008 says:

Agreed and I am not holding my breath. The vast majority of “studies” I see presented by MAIG, The Brady Center, Mother Jones and the like are better described as propaganda. MAIG is terrible about showing their actual data and calculations. The statistics they show are very simple while trying to look impressive. Their studies would never survive academic review.

• Pete S says:

Even a lot of peer reviewed journal article on guns are very flawed. The NEJM article that everyone references to say households with guns are 3X more likely to experience a gun homicide has a fundamental flaw that obviates any of their conclusions and that’s the NEJM one of the top journals.

• JuanCudz says:

Absolutely. If congress has any say in this matter they must insist that all the data is released into the public domain (it is being funded by your tax dollars after all). Then real statistitians can fine-tooth-comb it. Not that mass media would care or report the true results anyway.

• David says:

The truth is the MEDIA is a horrible minded bunch of people that very few know there ass from a hole in the ground especialy when it comes to freedom, and firearms. Your not watching a news program, your watching a news anchor, that only cares about his or her PAYCHECK, NOTHING ELSE. If they were true news reporters covering real events with a 50/50 non BIASED approach, you might see a glimmer of TRUTH!! And not someones personal thoughts being stuffed down your throats! Thats what happens when BLOOMBERGS MONEY flows like water threw the media complex! They have bin BOUGHT AND PAYED FOR, what a shaim to the 1st Amendment. PROPAGANDA AT IT’s WORST!!!! Like wathing Russian NEWS from the 1980’s!! BULLSHIT NEWS feeled with nothing but shock and awe…If some kid isnt killing, or someone isnt dieing there not interested. The NEWS, or lack of has changed alot in the last 20 years. They all seem to be looking for the next traggedy to happen. HEARTLESS BASTARDS. And if you dont beleive me just enter BIASED into your search engine, guess what pops up by th hundreds. All kind of news storries, from all over the US. I think its time for boycot of all local news period, until they decide to fair coverage!! Thats you BAY NEWS 9, your one of the worst. We should start asking these asshats, have you ever even taken a gun afty class?? Or even owned a firearm??? 9 out of 10 would look at you as a phreakin devil for sggsting they at least try something before writting about it! COMMON SENSE is not so common anymore. THE MEDIA SUCKS IN THIS COUNTRY!

12. travis m. says:

The numbers might be true if you start the study when guns started to be mass produced. Do they even say when the start and end date of the study is? You could make some pretty crazy statistics that way.

13. SAS 2008 says:

A better reference for most people on this study, instead of a link to the data, would be the national institute of justice study at: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf

The percentages of sources of guns are found in Exhibit 5 at the end of page 6. If you were to take those sources of guns today, all of them would be required to go through a background check expect some of:

4% – Gunshow or flea market
17% – Member of the family
12% – Friend or acqaintance
4% – other

That does add up to 37% or near the 40% figure. But as said before this is old data and I would contend that most sales at gunshows are through dealers. So if you look at who would actually would be affected by the “universal” background checks it would not lickely include a member of the family. That means you get 16% or 20%, depending on if you include Gunshow or flea market, of sales that would now require a background check.

But this whole discussion misses the important point that these are supposedly law abiding citizens that are tranfering or obtaining these guns. The more useful information is where do crime guns come from? If you look at studies like this one http://www.policeissues.com/Sources.pdf about crime guns in LA you see that intentional trafficking of guns through straw purchases, corrupt dealers or other sources is really the problem. So we should be concentrating on the laws and enforcement that target those sources.

If you look at this survey http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf of criminals on where they got there guns in table 9 page 8 you will see that additional background checks will have very little effect on criminals. If you assume that a criminal will not go through a background check with a family or friend then adding a background check to private transfers will only affect the guns or flea market source. This is 2% or less of all sources of crime guns. Criminals will just go to another source.

So my contention is that universal background checks although they may make “sense” to some or sound nice when you talk about the “principle” of background checks, they will have almost zero effect on crime committed. This will happen with the cost making the law abiding go through the additional check. This basically backs up the NRA arguments.

I also believe that universal background checks will have near zero effect on mass shootings but that is a case to present at another time.

14. And yet when people are confronted on the bogusness (yes I went there) of the 40% statistic the anti-gun-freak response is “well, maybe we would have more up-to-date information if all research wasn’t banned by the NRA” (which is just as bogus of a statement as the 40% statistic)

• David says:

What do you expect, our intire countries being led by 2 LIAR’S. Ofcourse their going to pad the so called studies. And these are the guys attacking the constitution they took an oath of office to deffend it against any threat, foreign or domestic! So at the very least, their hipacritical LIERS, and at the worst DOMESTIC TERRORIST to this great NATION!

• Dave says:

The latest greatist trend in America right now is Catch The Government In Another LIE. I think its a wonderfull trend, about a sad set of affairs! Keep diggin up their dirt, and false statements. My eyes are wide open now!

15. JimInCO says:

86.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

• Leo338 says:

In Obama’s case that number jumps to 100%.

16. freedom says:

IDK. At least 75% of my firearms have been acquired without a background check. I’ve done a ton of buying and trading with other individuals. Most of the other gun nuts I know do the same thing.

17. Russ Bixby says:

Yeah, I put a sheet of lexan over mine for just such a reason.

Y’know, statistically cows average 16 legs apiece – maybe more. They’ve got ’em on the sides, the ends, the corners and on the bottom, and maybe in other places as well.

Wonderful thing, mathematics…

18. Roscoe says:

What’s so infuriating about the rhetoric of false stats and patent lies being thrown around by the gun grabber and scarlet letter (let’s identify all gun owners) crowd is that the media simply parrot’s what they say as if it must be gospel without any meaningful assessment of the “facts”.

Then all the mindless followers / voters that know nothing about the 2A or firearms simply take what the MSM puts out as true because, heck, the good Prez and all those gun control types who are looking out for us are only trying to do what’s best “for the children” and put an end to all the illegal things those evil gun owners do.

19. PCnotPC says:

Statistics (a lie veiled in numbers) can be made to say anything you want by adjusting the sample.

That said, if private gun sales are indeed private, then how would anyone know how to estimate the number of sales, much less even get close to the actual number of private sales?

20. Azimuth says:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. ~ Mark Twain

Politicians are well versed in all three.

21. It doesn’t matter if it’s 22% or 40%, it’s way too much. Furthermore background checks without registration requirements would still be effective. Most law-abiding gun owners would adhere to the new requirements especially since the cost and inconvenience would be minimal. To say that background checks will certainly be followed by registration which would then be followed by confiscations, is nonsense. It’s just more of your alarmist, fear-inducing nonsense.

• David says:

• David, thanks for your response. I’d like to point out that I and most gun control folks don’t say ALL gun owners are irresponsible. In fact we understand that most are safety conscious and responsible. It’s the percentage that isn’t that concerns us.

On the other hand, in your comment you sound like you’re saying ALL gun owners are responsible and safe. That’s equally wrong.

22. If the government wants to improve the background check system, they should do 2 things:

1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (Google for question 18a of ATF form 5310 FFL application). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like databases for sex offenders. The NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot license query system, which provides more detailed information on mostly law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain a piece of paper that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the ATF follows their current procedure of using the model and serial number of the firearm to contact the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was a mistake or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious person with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.

• David says:

Yeah Jim, they used to have people who could sell at your home, like life insurance. Then Clinton caim along and invented a nasty term for people who did this, BASEMENT DEALER, my father bought a gun from one of these dealers back when it was still ok. My dads a Veitnam vet, with 3 tours, and a retired Orlando Fire Fighter with 22 years on. The so called basement dealer, was his LT. Its very clear, and getting clearer by the minute Obama’s even starting to be les in the media, and Biden. Even the governer of NY threw Bloomberg under the bus for his rediculous Safe Act Bill. They realize its a sinking ship, like rats there all trying to get off before it goes down. Now its up to everyone of us to not relax, turn up the noise!! Vote PROGUN EVERYTIME!! Call your Governers, and Senators let them now, listen to the people, or will vote you out! This mess didnt happen overnight, it will take time to correct all the control phreaks, and put the power back where it belongs..BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE!!

23. Defcon1 says:

Records indicate there were 19,500,000 background checks for gun purchases in 2012. If we can assume that all of those checks were because someone actually wanted to purchase a gun and therefore resulted in at least 1 gun purchase, then we can assume that there were at least 19.5 million guns purchased. If that figure is only 60% of the total number of purchases, then 7.8 million guns would have had to have been purchased without background checks for that particular 40% statistic to be accurate. Over 21,000 a day. Every day.
I didn’t sell any of my guns last year. To anybody. You sell any of your guns? Don’t answer because what you do with your personal property is none of my business. And it isn’t the business of some government POS either.

24. David says:

My point exactly, BULLSHIT STATS, more fast mouth moving politicians! Im waiting for the next time Obama starts playing the worlds most tiniest violin again, THIS TIME ITS DIFFERENT!! Yeah dipshit, this time its MUCH, MUCH WORSE!!! Its all a power play to DISARM the civilian population, so that the 2 dickheads in office can restrict this countries FREEDOMS as much as possible..Its a shame we let these two asshats into office, and what kind of President says “I’ll meet with any anti gun group for half a million dollars”! If thats not the most embarrassing statement any President has ever made to date! Another words, you can help BUY THE VOTE OF OUR PRESIDENT, this guys off the fin chain!! Remember to vote PRO 2nd A!!!!! And help rid this country of these half assed politicians for good!

25. […] said it before and we’ll say it again – the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex will say anything […]

26. […] We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex will say anything to further their goal of eliminating firearms from private ownership. So making up attention-grabbing statistics (90% of Americans support enhanced background checks!) is just par for the agitprop propagating course. Still, it’s nice when the numbers they shout at the top of their lungs can be exposed as the fragrant cowpies they really are. Case in point: Colorado’s first month under their new all-gun-sales-require-a-background-check law. In the MAIG-fired run-up to the Centennial State’s vote and ultimate adoption of the new background check law, anti-gunners threw around the laughable stat that 40% of all gun sales happen between private individuals and, therefore, avoid NICS checks. The reality, however . . . is slightly different. […]

27. Oodles of Noodles says:

What if the Democrats give illegal immigrants 2nd amendment rights/protection? I.E. requiring you to prove you are a citizen to buy a firearm.

28. […] The most common lie we hear from politicians (including Obama and Clinton) is that as much as 40% of firearms sold don’t require a background check. This would lead us to believe that for every 100 guns sold in this country, 40 of them were sold by private individuals and thus didn’t require a background check. This figure of 40% is derived from a 1994 survey of only 251 people. The survey is flawed in so many ways. First, its over 20 years old. Second, even if the study was trustworthy, studies of the survey data suggest that using the 40% figure is an exaggeration of the findings. At the highest only 22% of gun sales come from private sellers (Washington Post Fact Checker). Third, and most important, no survey based on a sample size of 251 in the context of millions of gun purchases can be considered statistically sound. It wouldn’t even pass a high school stats class standard. (Yeah, it’s that ludicrous). For more details about the statistically silliness read this great article from Truth About Guns. […]

29. […] The most common lie we hear from politicians (including Obama and Clinton) is that as much as 40% of firearms sold don’t require a background check. This would lead us to believe that for every 100 guns sold in this country, 40 of them were sold by private individuals and thus didn’t require a background check. This figure of 40% is derived from a 1994 survey of only 251 people. The survey is flawed in so many ways. First, its over 20 years old. Second, even if the study was trustworthy, studies of the survey data suggest that using the 40% figure is an exaggeration of the findings. At the highest only 22% of gun sales come from private sellers (Washington Post Fact Checker). Third, and most important, no survey based on a sample size of 251 in the context of millions of gun purchases can be considered statistically sound. It wouldn’t even pass a high school stats class standard. (Yeah, it’s that ludicrous). For more details about the statistically silliness read this great article from Truth About Guns. […]

30. […] The most common lie we hear from politicians (including Obama and Clinton) is that as much as 40% of firearms sold don’t require a background check. This would lead us to believe that for every 100 guns sold in this country, 40 of them were sold by private individuals and thus didn’t require a background check. This figure of 40% is derived from a 1994 survey of only 251 people. The survey is flawed in so many ways. First, its over 20 years old. Second, even if the study was trustworthy, studies of the survey data suggest that using the 40% figure is an exaggeration of the findings. At the highest only 22% of gun sales come from private sellers (Washington Post Fact Checker). Third, and most important, no survey based on a sample size of 251 in the context of millions of gun purchases can be considered statistically sound. It wouldn’t even pass a high school stats class standard. (Yeah, it’s that ludicrous). For more details about the statistically silliness read this great article from Truth About Guns. […]

31. […] The most common lie we hear from politicians (including Obama and Clinton) is that as much as 40% of firearms sold don’t require a background check. This would lead us to believe that for every 100 guns sold in this country, 40 of them were sold by private individuals and thus didn’t require a background check. This figure of 40% is derived from a 1994 survey of only 251 people. The survey is flawed in so many ways. First, its over 20 years old. Second, even if the study was trustworthy, studies of the survey data suggest that using the 40% figure is an exaggeration of the findings. At the highest only 22% of gun sales come from private sellers (Washington Post Fact Checker). Third, and most important, no survey based on a sample size of 251 in the context of millions of gun purchases can be considered statistically sound. It wouldn’t even pass a high school stats class standard. (Yeah, it’s that ludicrous). For more details about the statistically silliness read this great article from Truth About Guns. […]