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Ignoring the Facts on Guns


March 25th, 2014

Chris W. Cox

Editorial in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gun control advocates frequently use discredited and false information to push their gun control schemes. In a March 16 op-ed, Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, for example, cited a statistic that has been widely discredited ("Gun check legislation languishes at Capitol," Crossroads).

In addition, other untruths have been broadly pushed by gun control advocates.

One claim pushed by the Brady Campaign, that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has "stopped more than 2.1 million would-be gun purchases," sure sounds impressive. But the fact is the vast majority of the 2.1 million people flagged by NICS are either legitimate purchasers (who are snagged by mistake) or criminals who are then turned loose to obtain firearms elsewhere, rather than being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

For example, in 2010, only 62 out of 72,659 NICS denials led to prosecutions by the federal government — and only 13 of those prosecutions resulted in a conviction. That's 0.0001%.

According to Vice President Joe Biden, the reason for the Obama administration's near-total lack of enforcement is "we simply don't have the time or the manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately." If that's the case, what's the point of the check? Does the administration think a determined criminal will give up a life of crime after a NICS denial?

Lueders — and the Brady Campaign — cited a claim that 40% of gun purchases are conducted without a background check. Even the notoriously anti-gun Washington Post debunked that whopper, giving it a rating of "3 Pinocchios." That's because this statistic comes from a 251-person survey conducted nearly two decades ago, in which more than three-quarters of the firearm sales covered in the survey occurred before background checks were mandated by federal law.

The most recent Department of Justice survey of 1,402 convicted criminals found that nearly 90% of them got their guns from sources that included theft, straw purchases, family, friends and the black market. None of these would have been blocked by NICS.

Those who truly want to keep guns out of the wrong hands would challenge Biden and the Obama administration on their admitted refusal to prosecute those they know may be attempting to purchase a firearm illegally. Instead, he's calling for a so-called universal background checks scheme, which has more to do with registering and criminalizing lawful transfers than with reducing violent crime.

But that's just the point. The goal of anti-gun activists is to harass law-abiding gun owners and manufacture public shame toward anyone who exercises Second Amendment rights. They can try by hook or by crook, but the National Rifle Association won't let them get away with it.