As one of our great national leaders once said when repeatedly confronted with specious and insubstantial arguments, “There you go again.”
We could cite plenty of examples used by proponents of gun control in this regard, but for the moment we’re talking about the claim that 40 percent of firearms are sold without a background check. Readers may recall that two years ago, FactCheck.org discredited the claim in depth and the Washington Post Fact Checker thereafter gave President Obama “Three Pinocchios” for using it in a White House speech.
That should have been embarrassing enough to have sent gun control supporters back to the drawing board, but instead they’ve doubled down. Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown front group now uses the “40 percent” claim--and its corollary “6.6 million firearms” claim--here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
That brings us to Timothy Kaine, the former Virginia governor and Democratic Party chairman elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. Kaine repeated the “40 percent” claim on the floor of the Senate last month, but the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch is calling him on the lie. The newspaper points out that the authors of the study on which the claim is supposedly based say that only 14 to 22 percent of firearms were sold without a check when the study was conducted 21 years ago (before gun dealers were required to run checks under federal law), and they “don’t know” if the same figures would be correct today. The Times-Dispatch’s conclusion: the “40 percent” claim is “mostly false.”
Gun control supporters will probably continue using the claim anyway. But why they think that it helps them to exaggerate the number of private firearm sales is a mystery. Claiming that there are millions of firearms sold without a background check, while the nation’s murder rate is at about an all-time low, tends to endorse, rather than to disparage, private gun sales.