This criticism is richly deserved, but it’s hardly new.
What has fascinated me has been his dogged insistence on focusing on two particular data points which are clearly brazen lies. The first is that “40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check”, and that “90 percent of Americans… agree on background checks”. At first blush these sound mighty impressive, but neither claim holds up to even a cursory examination, and THIS was one of the primary reasons the amendment failed.
The first one (40% of purchases had no background checks) is an obvious lie to anyone who has ever purchased a gun. According to none other than the Washington Post, this claim is based on old and faulty data.
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.
Which means the problem is with the relative age of the data, the actual question wording, and the timing of the study itself. Or, basically… everything:
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 dating as far back as 1991, 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.
So a 20-year-old survey, with a sample size smaller than the local Friday Night Bingo game, has been his basis for challenging the Second Amendment all along? Yup.
Yet Obama hinted at none of that in his rhetoric. Breitbart summed it up this way:
“…the figure of 40% doesn’t represent new guns but guns already in circulation, which are being resold on a secondary basis. The intimation that 40% of new guns are being sold illegally is simply myth-making at best, lying at worst.”
The other number which he’s repeated as if it had magical powers was 90%:
“How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?” Obama said at an event at the White House with family members of victims of gun violence.
That, Mr. President, is a GREAT question. Heritage.com thought so, too:
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check to borrow a friend’s hunting rifle? In the original Reid bill (which was the pending bill when Pres. Obama issued his call to action), borrowing a friend’s hunting rifle without a background check would be a felony.
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check to buy a firearm advertised on the local church bulletin board? The Schumer-Toomy-Manchin Amendment would require such a check.
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of requiring a background check if it cost law-abiding gun owners $125? According to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin Amendment would “charge a $30 to $50 and up to a $125 fee, creating a new de facto tax on guns.”
Are 90 percent of Americans really in favor of expanded background checks if it weakens mental health privacy laws? According to Heritage, the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin Amendment “reduces existing privacy protection for mental health records relevant to background checks.”
These are the questions the polls do not ask…
I’d look at it yet another way. Why don’t we compare President Pablum’s favorite data figure with the percentage of folks believing in various conspiracy theories? These numbers should certainly be far superior to the fringe delusions of folks who’ve lost their moorings with reality, …right?
- Do you believe Osama bin Laden is still alive or dead? DEAD = 83%
- Do you believe the moon landing was faked or not? NOT FAKED = 84%
- Do you believe President Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, or not? NOT = 73%
- Do you believe the government adds fluoride to our water supply, not for dental health reasons, but for more sinister reasons, or not? DO NOT = 74%
- Do you believe in Bigfoot or Sasquatch, or not? DO NOT = 72%
- Do you believe a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, and the US government covered it up, or not? DO NOT = 47%
So you tell me: are there fewer citizens who are against Background checks than those who believe in Bigfoot, or think Obama is the Anti-Christ? Does that make even a little sense? And if Dear Leader is lying about his preferred statistic, what does that say about his entire argument?
We both know the answer to that one.
Further, if the number of folks who supported this truly WAS 90%, what Senator in their right minds would vote against it? It would be electoral suicide, even for most Republicans. The fact that four Democratic Senators, three of whom are up for re-election in 2014, couldn’t be bullied into voting for this legislative farce is all you need to know as to its actual popularity.
Obama has just pulled a “Mighty Casey” here. Although I’m confident he’ll attempt to use the failure of this bill’s passage to his political advantage, it’ll be made much more difficult with several of his own party having voted it down (h/t HotAir.com).
Of course, he’ll probably just lie about THAT, too.