Even The WaPo Calls Out Obama on His Phony “40%” Statistic on Gun Sales

On last Sunday’s show, I chastised Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, for repeating the dishonest, albeit frequently cited, statistic that “40% of gun sales don’t involve a background check.” Our frequent guest Professor John Lott called that out in a piece in National Review last January, but that hasn’t stopped those seeking more pointless gun control laws from repeating it ad nauseum. The One himself used it last week in a speech. Like so much of what issues forth from the mouth of our TelePrompTer-dependent chief executive, it’s a lie. From Fox News:

The oft-cited figure, it turns out, was pulled from a 1997 study done by the National Institute of Justice. In the study, researchers estimated about 40 percent of all firearm sales took place through people other than licensed gun dealers. The conclusion was based on data from a 1994 survey of 2,568 households. Of those, only 251 people answered the question about where they got their guns.

PolitiFact tracked down the co-author of the study, Duke University professor Philip Cook, and asked him if he thought the 40 percent estimate is accurate.

“The answer is I have no idea,” Cook reportedly told PolitiFact. “This survey was done almost 20 years ago.”

This story points out the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” gave Obama 3 Pinochios for this claim. It’s worth reading the whole piece. Here’s a little bit from it.

This study was based on data collected from a survey in 1994, the same year that the Brady Act requirements for background checks came into effect. In fact, the questions concerned purchases in 1993 and 1994, and the Brady Act went into effect in early 1994 — meaning that some, if not many, of the guns were bought in a pre-Brady environment.

Digging deeper, we found that the survey sample was just 251 people. (The survey was done by telephone, using a random-digit-dial method, with a response rate of 50 percent.) With this sample size, the 95 percent confidence interval will be plus or minus six percentage points.

Moreover, when asked whether the respondent bought from a licensed firearms dealer, the possible answers included “probably was/think so” and “probably not,” leaving open the possibility the purchaser was mistaken. (The “probably not” answers were counted as “no.”)

When all of the “yes” and “probably was” answers were added together, that left 35.7 percent of respondents indicating they did not receive the gun from a licensed firearms dealer. Rounding up gets you to 40 percent, although as we noted before, the survey sample is so small it could also be rounded down to 30 percent.

As we brace ourselves for another round of Obama’s “Big Lie” Road show, which today will travel to Colorado, let’s recap what we’ve seen so far. The “never let a crisis go to waste” playbook on prominent display, as B. Hussein Obama takes advantage of the murder of children to once again trample of the U.S. Constitution, and use disingenuous “studies” to deceive people into going along.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again because there is nothing more true in this life. The Left lies.


  1. I have been carefully watching the gun control debate for many moons now and the most consistent thing that I have observed about gun control advocates is their enthusiastic willingness to quote statistics to support their position. Unfortunately for the gun control advocates (primarily the various iterations of the Brady campaign and Bloomberg’s Mayor’s group) those statistics never stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. Some of the most memorable examples that spring to mind are:

    “You are X% more likely to kill a family member or someone you know if you own a gun”

    “X% of people support stricter gun control”

    “X amount of people are killed by guns every year”

    “Assault weapons are the weapon of choice of criminals and used in X% of gun crimes”

    And now this latest whopper about how many guns are sold in this country without a background check. I never see them quoting statistics about how the places in the country with the strictest gun control have the most gun crime or the places with the least restrictions on concealed carry have lower violent crime rates than the places that strictly prohibit concealed carry. I cannot help but wonder why.

    • Please allow me to make one small correction to my previous post. I meant to use the term “murdered”. “X amount of people are murdered by guns every year”. This total will frequently include deaths that do not fit the definition of murder.

      • Robert,
        Professor John Lott, who wrote an excellent piece for National Review in January debunking that “40% of gun sales without a background check” lie, will be on The Teri O’Brien Show tomorrow (4/7/13).

  2. What makes “Politifact” such a sacrosanct authority? How can the NRA or NSSF defund any studies that they do not commission?

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