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40 Percent Myth Further Debunked by Suspiciously-timed Harvard Report

Friday, January 6, 2017

40 Percent Myth Further Debunked by Suspiciously-timed Harvard Report

This week saw the publication of survey data compiled by Harvard Injury Control Research Center’s Deborah Azrael, Matthew Miller, and Lisa Hepburn, that should finally lay to rest the long-debunked factoid that 40 percent of firearms sales occur without a background check. The report, titled, “Firearm Acquisition Without Background Checks: Results of a National Survey,” and published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that only 22 percent “of gun owners who reported obtaining their most recent firearm within the previous 2 years reported doing so without a background check.” However, rather than celebrate these new findings, gun rights supporters should remain skeptical of this data and even more so of the way its release was handled.

Despite the 40 percent statistic having been abandoned as unreliable by the very researchers whose work is cited for the figure, the bogus number has remained a staple talking point for the anti-gun community. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) used it in April 2015, and later that year presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the flawed number, with a version of the factoid even appearing on her campaign website. Gun control advocates like Mark Kelly of Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence refuse to stop using the statistic. Even after the Washington Post repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama’s use of the ridiculous number, the figure still appears on the White House’s issue page for gun control.

While the new findings cast even more doubt onto the already discredited 40 percent statistic, gun owners should temper their enthusiasm. As with any survey data, as amply demonstrated this election cycle, these findings are subject to significant degree of uncertainty. In truth, there is no feasible way to acquire a truly accurate determination of the percentage of private firearm transfers in relation to all firearm transfers.

Moreover, gun rights supporters might find the timing of the release of the survey data to be curious. Certainly, information suggesting that private firearms transfers were far less prevalent than gun control supporters previously contended would be useful information for voters, particularly in Nevada and Maine, which held referendums in 2016 on whether to ban the private transfer of firearms.

Making the situation even more suspicious, the survey was conducted in 2015. Further, Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control publication The Trace reported on October 21, 2015 that forthcoming survey data from Azrael and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center backed up the 40 percent statistic. The Trace claimed that,

Pulling data from a forthcoming study on gun ownership conducted by the university’s Injury Control Research Center, the scholars have landed on a figure set to corroborate the earlier finding: Harvard’s Dr. Deborah Azrael tells The Trace that of 2,072 gun owners the researchers surveyed, roughly 40 percent said they’d acquired their most recent firearm (through a sale or transfer) without going through a background check.

This begs the question, did the Harvard researchers purposefully withhold their survey findings until after the 2016 election, as their data would have severely undermined gun control proponents’ case for background checks? Given the Harvard Injury Control Research Center’s history of support for gun control, the fact that the research was primarily funded by the handgun prohibitionist-supporting Joyce Foundation, and the timing of the report’s release, such questions have merit. Even if the survey data was not fully-prepared for publication until after the election, the researchers previously demonstrated that they have no compunction with releasing preliminary findings when it suits their agenda. Survey data from such ardent gun control allies that cut in half the estimated number of private firearms transfers would have made any attempts to use the 40 percent statistic during the 2016 campaign untenable and suggested that legislation to restrict private transfers would be far less impactful.

Further, these findings have now come out in the wake of the FBI’s refusal to further burden the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by directly conducting Nevada’s state-mandated background checks on private transfers. Could the release of this research be timed to assert that the burden on FBI’s resources imposed by Nevada’s state mandate would be less than previously considered?

While this new report should finally rid us of the gun control movement’s resilient 40 percent myth, the way in which this survey data has come to light raises significant questions. According to a January 3 Trace article, “Azrael hopes the new research can help inform better debate — and policy — concerning background checks.” If such were actually the case, this information might have found its way to Maine and Nevada voters when it was available, not after the fact.

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Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

On Monday, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – joined by co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) – introduced S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HPA). Similar legislation was introduced in the ...

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Today, Senate Bill 12, legislation eliminating the requirement to obtain a permit in order to lawfully carry, passed the Senate without amendment, by a 13-10 vote.  SB 12 will now go to the House of ...

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

Inspired, perhaps, by Oscar Wilde (“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess”), Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced two new sweeping gun control bills, with Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and Rep. ...

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

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Friday, January 13, 2017

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

On January 3rd, Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.8th) introduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which simply allows lawful firearm carriers from any state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state. The bill ...

Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

Gun owners knew that Barack Obama would not leave quietly. The only question was what else was coming.  

Indiana: Legislative Session Begins with Numerous Pro-Gun Bills Filed

Friday, January 13, 2017

Indiana: Legislative Session Begins with Numerous Pro-Gun Bills Filed

With the 2017 Indiana legislative session underway, we are happy to report that a number of pro-gun bills have been filed.

Virginia: Senate Committee to Hear Numerous Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Virginia: Senate Committee to Hear Numerous Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tomorrow, January 18, the Senate Courts of Justice is expected to hear and possibly vote on several firearm-related bills.

Oregon: State Employees Left Defenseless by New “No Firearms” Policy

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Oregon: State Employees Left Defenseless by New “No Firearms” Policy

Earlier this month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Department of Administrative Services released a memorandum announcing a new policy prohibiting state employees from possessing a personal firearm in the workplace, even if they have a concealed handgun license.  This policy strips ...

Supreme Court Asked to Review California’s Restrictive Carry Regime

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Supreme Court Asked to Review California’s Restrictive Carry Regime

On Thursday, the NRA-supported case Peruta v. California took an important step towards restoring the right to bear arms in California.  The plaintiffs in the case, California gun owners and the California Rifle and Pistol ...

Kansas: Bill Introduced Attempting to Repeal Pro-Self-Defense Law

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kansas: Bill Introduced Attempting to Repeal Pro-Self-Defense Law

In 2013, the Kansas Legislature passed the Public Building Security Act, pro-gun legislation that amended the Personal and Family Protection Act. 

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.