Our own fact checking on Obama’s 40% of Gun Sales lack Background checks put this to rest more than a month ago. Seems like the Washington Post is late to the Game.
WaPo Fact Check – Obama: 40 percent of gun sales lack background checks – 3 Pinocchios
“Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?”
— President Obama, remarks on gun safety, March 28, 2013
— tweet from @BarackObama, March 28
We were away last week and have been catching up on the recent rhetoric. A number of readers asked us about this comment last week by President Obama, and his Twitter account (managed by his campaign spin-off Organizing for Action), given that we had looked closely at this statistic back in January, in two columns, and found it wanting. It ultimately earned a rating of Two Pinocchios. PolitiFact in January also concluded there were serious problems with this particular statistic, giving it a rating of “half true.” And the Associated Press, in a March fact check, labeled this factoid “old and surely very tired.”
Normally we would expect some adjustment of the language in response to a fact-checker consensus. Alas, it appears to be time for a refresher course — and a new rating.
There are two key problems with the president’s use of this statistic: The numbers are about two decades old, yet he acts as if they are fresh, and he refers to “purchases” or “sales” when in fact the original report concerned “gun acquisitions” and “transactions.” Those are much broader categories of data.
As we noted before, the White House said the figure comes from a 1997 Institute of Justice report, written by Philip Cook of Duke University and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago.