President Obama’s misleading claims about universal background checks distort reality

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 6, 2013

President Barack Obama and friends of his administration have spent the last few weeks trying to convince federal legislators that there is broad support for stricter gun regulations in America. From misrepresenting polling to oversimplifying laws, the President and like-minded Democrats have been distorting the facts about this hot button issue.

For example, President Obama claimed during a speech in Minneapolis on Monday that a large majority of Americans support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun, insinuating that background checks aren’t currently required to purchase a gun. What the president didn’t say is that all Americans who buy firearms from a licensed dealer are subjected to a criminal background check before purchasing the weapons. And that the system, the National Instant Check System (NICS), has successfully been implemented more than 100 million times, in the process denying 700,000 criminals the ability to possess a gun.

In the same speech, President Obama claimed that the “overwhelmingly majority of gun owners” support universal background checks, particularly when it comes to the so-called ‘gun show loophole.’

“But we know, for example, from polling that universal background checks are universally supported just about by gun owners,” Obama said. “So if we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different, we need to go to the source and reach out to people directly. We can’t allow those filters to get in the way of common sense.”

Not only was the remark categorically inaccurate (obviously the President cannot prove that every single gun owner in America supports universal background checks) his comment over-simplifies the polling he was likely referencing.The only recent public poll taken on universal background checks was taken in only three states — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut — all three of which are generally considered “blue states” and are states Obama won in the last two presidential elections. The poll was not taken on a national basis, so it is impossible to know if all or even a majority of gun owning and non-gun owning Americans support universal background checks.

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre also pointed out that background checks could never be “universal — because criminals will never submit to them” — which is why instituting the President’s gun control measures won’t do anything to stop criminals from obtaining guns.

Even ‘closing the gun show loophole’ — which is not the same as a universal background check, contrary to popular belief — would be a non-factor in decreasing the number of guns that get in the hands of criminals, as only 1.7 percent of firearms are purchased at gun shows, according to the NRA.

The weapons that murderers obtain are often possessed illegally. More than 230,000 firearms were stolen between 2005 and 2010, and a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey recently found that nearly eight in ten armed career criminals obtained their firearms from either “street/illegal sources” or “family and friends.” A universal background check, no matter how comprehensive it is, will therefore do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

It’s easy to make mistakes when talking about the complicated terminology associated with gun control laws(something even this writer has done) as the regulations have rarely come up in the national dialogue since the previous assault weapons ban expired in 2004. But the President and high-level members of his administration obviously know the policy proposals they are discussing inside and out and are purposely misleading the American public in order to get their agenda passed in Congress – which is something that cannot and should not be tolerated by non-gun owners and gun owners alike.

Francesca Chambers contributed to this article.

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