You’ve heard it countless times: 30 to 40 percent of are bought and sold “outside” the background check system. Here’s Obama:

It’s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks…. But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.

Here’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Michael Bloomberg’s inaptly named pressure group):

Around 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers are conducted by unlicensed ‘ sellers’ who are not required to conduct a federal check, and who often do business at gun shows and on the Internet.

Here’s Bloomberg himself:

Congress should pass the Fix Gun Checks Act, which would close the ‘ sale loophole’ that allows more than 40 percent of gun sales to go through without a background check.

What is the source of this statistic? It comes from a study made by the Police Foundation (thanks to a grant of monies from the Department) in 1994. The study asked 2,500 Americans where they got their guns, and if they thought the source had an FFL (Federal License) or not. It was limited to two years, 1993 and 1994.

Just 251 of those polled had acquired during those two years. 64 percent of those 251 “thought” they got them from someone holding a FFL. The researchers deduced that the rest of them didn’t: 36 percent.

But – and it’s a big but – 17 percent of those 251 acquired the gun from a family member.

That means that sales outside of family members accounted for about one in six gun sales, not 40%.

By the way, 251 is a very small sampling, and hardly useful for such purposes anyway. According to Godfrey Parkin, to be statistically significant, “your sample should be about 10% of your universe.” The Policy Foundation study therefore assumed the universe to be 25,000. Out of a population of 265 million?

But this really doesn’t matter to the totalitarians, does it? If it fits, they use it, right or wrong.

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