Ethics Dunce Who Exemplifies Why This Anti-Gun Freakout Won’t Be Any More Successful Than The Last One: Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie is still the presumptive leader in the 2020 Democratic Presidential sweepstakes, right? No wonder Democrats are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Senator Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last week  that “We have to end the absurdity of the gun show loophole. Forty percent of the guns in this country are sold without any background checks.”

This is a fake stat that has been disproved many times. Obama used it. As always happens, the anti-gun advocates simply won’t play fair and try to win this policy debate using facts and reason. They always default to emotionalism, fear-mongering, dishonest journalism (I’ll be writing about CNN’s disastrous “town meeting” later), lies, distortions, and fake statistics. When the emotional rush of the particular tragedy is over, and non-substantive cries like “Never again!”, “Your right to own a gun shouldn’t trump a child’s right to live!”, “Do something!” and “Kill the NRA!” lose their power to persuade people no longer in grade school, sufficient numbers of citizens stop and think, “You know what? We can’t trust these people! They lie.”

And so they do.

As some wags have said today, when the Washington Post can’t even resist pointing out that your anti-gun claims are nonsense, you’re really in trouble.

Glenn Kessler, the Post’s Factchecker, made short work of Bernie, hitting him with four Pinocchios and calling his “gun show loophole” a “zombie claim, false facts that keep getting repeated, no matter how often we fact-check them.”

We thought we had long ago buried this false claim that 40 percent of guns are sold without a background check. But it has once again risen from the dead!

Why is this? It happens because when it comes to guns, the Left slips into its increasingly comfortable “the ends justify the means” mentality.


President Barack Obama began using it in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. We were surprised to learn that the 40 percent statistic was based on one relatively small telephone survey of 251 people about guns they obtained in 1993 and 1994, even though the Brady Law mandating background checks only went into effect in early 1994. (The survey did not even directly ask about background checks.)

So, by 2013, it was already rather stale.

The analysis concluded that 35.7 percent of respondents indicated that they did not receive their guns from a licensed firearms dealer. Rounding up gets you to 40 percent, although the survey sample is so small it could also be rounded down to 30 percent.

The original report carefully used terms such as “acquisitions” and “transactions,” which included trades, gifts and the like. This subtlety is lost on many politicians, such as Sanders, who referred to weapons that are “sold.” But it’s an important detail because many of the people who obtained a gun without a background check either received it as a gift or inherited it.

Why is it important to make a distinction between purchases and transactions? For one thing, the failed 2013 Senate compromise bill that would have required background checks for gun shows and Internet sales specifically made an exception for gifts (and even sales) among family members and neighbors. Including the data on such transactions can change the results.

Upon further investigation of the 1993-1994 research, including rerunning the numbers to better distinguish between gun purchases and gifts, we learned that gun purchases without background checks amounted to 14 to 22 percent….

But Sanders now has even less of an excuse than Obama. That’s because in 2017, researchers at Harvard University and Northeastern University finally published a new study, based on an online survey of 1,613 gun owners in 2015 — and they found that 22 percent of gun owners who reported obtaining a firearm in the previous two years did so without a background check. That’s almost half the percentage of the old figure.

Moreover, among purchased firearms, the figure was 13 percent. That’s one-third of Sanders’s 40 percent claim. Once again, nonpurchased firearms (such as those acquired via a gift or inheritance) accounted for a large share of the weapons obtained without a background check.

Though Sanders referred to the “gun show loophole,” not a single person surveyed said they obtained a weapon at a gun show without a background check.

(That’s my emphasis, not Glenn’s.)

I was going to let this issue go, since the Post’s slamming of Bernie—they don’t want him running either—is getting a fair amount of notice. Then came Sanders spokespersons response, which was pure Ted Lieu.

“Senator Sanders on Meet the Press provided the best information he had at the time,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-LewisMiller-Lewis said. “It appears the number he cited may be outdated. But whether it’s 40 percent or 22 percent of guns being acquired without a background check, millions of Americans still obtain guns without background checks. That’s absurd. No one should be allowed to purchase a gun without a vigorous background check.”

This is a great, if hilarious, spin job. Kessler just explained that there was information available with more accurate numbers than a four year-old fake stat. If Bernie said that the sun revolved around the Earth, would “that was the best information he had at the time” be a reasonable explanation? If you haven’t checked your facts, 1) Don’t broadcast them and mislead people, and 2) Don’t get indignant over them, because you look like an incompetent  fool.

Then we have “It appears the number he cited may be outdated.” No, the number he cited WAS outdated. This is equivocation. There’s no dispute. It was a bad stat.

Finally, we get the Lieu approach in lieu of honesty and an apology. Hey, it doesn’t matter that we use inflated statistics! Guns bad!  That’s all that matters!

What matters is that we know Bernie will lie to us in order to gains support for his agenda, and so will anti-gun advocates. Thanks for the reminder.


Facts: Washington Free Beacon




Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights

13 responses to “Ethics Dunce Who Exemplifies Why This Anti-Gun Freakout Won’t Be Any More Successful Than The Last One: Senator Bernie Sanders

  1. JP

    I posted this back in November, but I think it might be good for a reminder:

    The second proposed regulation is the so-called “gun show loophole”. This is a misnomer, because it is not actually a loophole. The law, which goes by many names such as gun law loophole, Brady law loophole (or Brady bill loophole), private sale loophole, and private sale exemption, was intentionally designed to be as it is. Current federal law does not require private sellers to do background checks; it affects the secondary market or the unrelated market that includes private sellers. I assume the law was crafted this way to pass down weapons in families, and to avoid an unnecessary burdens between private owners. The logic for support of the law is fewer guns in the hands of people who should not have them.

    Here, I will just refer to it as the gun show loophole.

    Let’s look at some background. In a 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice, it was found that fewer than 2% of convicted criminals bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show. About 12% purchased their firearm from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80% bought from family, friends, or an illegal source. A 1999 report by the Justice Department found a majority of gun show owners had a license to sell and did perform background checks. It concluded that although most sellers at gun shows are upstanding people, a few corrupt sellers could move a large quantity of firearms into high-risk hands. In short: though it was not likely to happen through a gun show, it was possible. More recent data might reflect better or worse conditions.

    In relation to mass shootings, can we see this being a problem? The gun show loophole became a prominent issue in 1999 after the Columbine school shooting. However, these guns were obtained legally by the parents and stolen by the kids. It was an issue again in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, but these guns were also obtained legally (the shooter passed a background check). In the 2012 Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, Homes obtained his guns through four shops legally. Also in 2012, the guns used in the Sandy Spring Elementary School killing were stolen from the mother of the shooter who had obtained the guns legally.

    The 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting is perhaps the most interesting. The killer was stopped from buying a rifle but was allowed to buy a shotgun, which he used to kill 12 people. In 2014, the Fort Hood Killer legally purchased his gun. The 2014 shooter in Washington obtained a gun legally, but only because prior abuse was never entered into the system (which should have denied him the gun). The 2015 Charleston church shooter should have also been stopped from buying a gun but was allowed to, also because of human error. The 2015 San Bernardino guns were obtained legally. In the 2016 Florida Nightclub shooting, the guns were obtained legally. Finally, in the two most recent shootings (Las Vegas and Texas church) the guns were obtained legally, though the Texas shooter would have failed a background check had the Air Force properly entered the data it was supposed to.

  2. Here is a reason why Congress can not require background checks on all firearm purchases.

    Congress has limited powers under the Constitution.

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

    To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

    To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

    To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

    To establish post offices and post roads;

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

    To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

    To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

    To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

    To provide and maintain a navy;

    To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

    To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;–And

    To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

    Congress can only regulate the sale of firearms in the context of these enumerated powers.

    Come to think of it, Congress could only regulate abortion in the context of these enumerated powers.

  3. Still Spartan

    People shouldn’t use bad facts, so shame on him. Regardless, the gun show loophole should be closed for obvious reasons.

    • As I pointed out in my main comment, Congress lacks Article I jurisdiction to close the loophole in toto.

    • SS ; “…the gun show loophole should be closed…

      As JP noted, there is no “loophole”; no laws are waived inside a gun show that would otherwise be in effect outside such a venue. In fact, some jurisdictions add their own additional requirements for gun show sales.

      There was no federal requirement for private sale background checks before the Brady law, and that remained the case (intentionally, as JP said) after it was passed. The law would not have passed at all if its proponents had insisted on having a private sale check requirement included. Perhaps the main reason this a sticking point is that any sort of effective enforcement of such a provision would require universal firearm registration (think it through). This was, and remains, a non-starter in the U.S.

  4. …The analysis concluded that 35.7 percent of respondents indicated that they did not receive their guns from a licensed firearms dealer…

    It’s not even that exact.

    Question 28: “Was the person you got this gun from a licensed firearms dealer?

    These were the choices for the people surveyed :

    Probably was/think so
    Probably not
    No/Definitely not
    Don’t Know

    Every answer but “Yes” or “Probably was/think so” was counted as a “no”…leaving “Don’t Know and Refused” to also be included as part of the 35.7 % rounded up to 40%.

  5. JRH

    Exhibitors, selling guns, at Gun Shows are regulated FFL Dealers, who are also local brick & mortar businesses in the community. They are required to run a background check on a gun sale regardless of whether it was purchased at the gun show. A small percentage of individuals bring guns to the show to sell privately. So, there is really no “Gun Show Loophole” as described. It’s just a meme promulgated by ignorant people. Waiting periods apply as well for any dealer selling at the show. There are lots of individuals selling non-regulated accessories & gear, but they don’t count in the discussion. I own dozens of guns and have only engaged in a private sale once or twice, for collectible items. Of course I always display my Concealed Permit, which means I’ve passed all the requirements to purchase guns. Bottom line – there are plenty of laws & procedures to insure gun sales are legal and proper. However Government has failed us time & again by not updating information in the system, ignoring specific warning signs, etc. The problem is an inefficient and corrupt government bureaucracy.

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