Chris Wallace Uses Misleading Statistics on Gun Background Checks
February 4, 2013
I also don’t understand why LaPierre can’t correct the record on some of the claims being made. The claim that “1.7 million prohibited people have been prevented from buying a gun” what they really mean is that “1.7 million people have been initially denied buying a gun.” Remember the five times that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy missed flights because his name was on the “no fly” list? This method of counting would be the equivalent of saying that the “no fly” list stopped five flights by terrorists. Sen. Kennedy may have been kept off those flights, but he still flew on later planes.
The problem is that at least 95% of these initial denials are false positives,(i.e. someone having the same name) and that is just the tip of the iceberg. After these initial denials are made, there is an initial review process in which 94% of the cases are dropped. No discretion is allowed in this review stage. If the person purchasing a gun was a prohibited individual who attempted to buy a gun, that is a crime and the investigation should be moved on to the next stage. There was a 2004 survey of the cases that were then referred to local BATF field offices and that found that over 22 percent of those cases were still false positives. There could be other cases, but at that point the annual reports become extremely murky. We know for example in 2010 that there were 76,000 initial denials, 62 of those were eventually referred to prosecutors, prosecutors went ahead with 44 cases, and there were 13 convictions. Yet, these numbers are an obvious overestimate as they say they might drop cases where the prohibited offense is “old,” but strangely some of the cases that they go forward with have involved cases with prohibitions that are over 4 decades old.