On Monday, Terry McAuliffe became the latest in a long line of gun control mouthpieces to get dinged for lying to the public about firearm background checks.
As we have reported again and again, it’s become mandatory for anti-gun politicians and others who are ideologically wedded to gun control to make some variant of the 40% claim. The assertion here is that some huge “loophole” exists in federal law, because 40% of sales or transfers are not covered by the federal background check requirement that applies to retail dealer sales. Their “cure,” of course, is to require government permission, record-keeping, and fees for every instance of a firearm changing hands, including between relatives, neighbors, and members of the same hunter or gun safety courses (for examples of how this works in the real world, see the accounts here and here from Washington State).
That claim, however, presents at least two problems.
One, it’s perfectly reasonable that a wide variety of gun transfers would occur without background checks. An uncle shouldn’t have to force his nephew to go through a background check to gift him a shotgun for his 18th birthday. A gun owner should be able to lend a handgun to his neighbor while her husband is away on a business trip without involving the government. A museum should be able to receive historically significant firearms from a collector so they can be displayed to the public without paying hundreds of dollars in background check fees. Long-time hunting buddies should be able to trade deer rifles without undergoing FBI vetting.
The structure of the current law is not a "loophole." It's intentionally designed to separate casual, private conduct by law-abiding people from commercial activity. Those who occasionally sell, trade, or transfer firearms for reasons other than livelihood and profit aren't subject to federal licensing and background check requirements. Only a gun control advocate could fail to see the distinction in that (Exhibit A: Michael Bloomberg, who banned food donations to homeless shelters because bureaucrats couldn't monitor their nutritional standards).
The other problem is the 40% claim is unsubstantiated and misleading, even according to the authors of the decades old study (the data collection for which predated the federal background check requirement) on which the claim is based.
But don’t take our word for it. Plenty of media “fact checkers” who rarely have anything nice to say about guns or the NRA have been forced to agree. Like this one. And this one. And this one. And this one and this one and this one and this one.
So why do gun controllers cling so tenaciously to this lie?
One, because they can’t win on the truth. It’s simple, really. There are more guns in America than at any time in the nation’s history, and the rate of violent crime nationwide is at historic lows. No matter what else advocates of gun prohibition say, they can’t hide that fact.
Two, because the truth doesn’t matter to them. They are ideologically opposed to the private ownership of arms and doggedly committed to its elimination, however long that takes, and however many interim steps it requires. They know “universal background checks” won’t make a dent in the crimes they exploit to promote their agenda, but they also know it sets the stage for later steps they intend to take, like universal firearm registration.
As we report elsewhere this week, Bloomberg and McAuliffe were handed a major defeat to their anti-gun plans in Virginia during Tuesday’s election. But the more than two million dollars Bloomberg spent to try to buy the Virginia Senate is mere pocket change to the New York City billionaire. He’ll certainly be back.
And when he is, you’ll no doubt hear the 40% claim repeated again by whatever mouthpiece he’s funding at the time. But truth and freedom are not for sale, and your best response to these false claims is to speak through the ballot box and vote on the side of the Second Amendment.