(National Review) Of all the gun-control measures touted by President Obama on Wednesday, the one that got top billing was a dramatic tightening of background checks on gun purchasers. Obama himself said the need was urgent because “40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.” But before we make the most sweeping changes in federal firearms law since the 1960s, shouldn’t we at least examine the validity of that figure? It’s about as dubious as they come.
The administration is focusing on background checks in an attempt to drive a wedge between staunch anti-gun-control absolutists such as the National Rifle Association and the average gun owner. Background checks are easily the most popular proposal out there. A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows the public closely divided on banning “assault weapons,” but 85 percent of those surveyed supported universal background checks. “If you look at the combination of likelihood of passage and effectiveness of curbing gun crime, universal background checks is at the sweet spot,” New York senator Chuck Schumer told reporters this week.
Most advocates of gun control believe the “loopholes” in federal law are the rule and not the exception when it comes to gun purchases. A 2011 study by the office of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed that “40 percent of guns are sold through private sellers.” His study went on to says “these sales — which take place in many venues, including gun shows and, increasingly, on the internet . . . fuel the black market for illegal guns.”