NBC's David Gregory Vastly Overstates Number of Gun Transfers Without Background Checks

On Sunday’s edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory falsely claimed that 40 percent of all gun sales are done without background checks, Twitchy reported.

“But isn’t that preferable to a big loophole where you have all these — 40 percent of sales, private sales, one-on-one, where you’ve got no ability to trace it?” he asked NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.

The statistic has been used by the New York Times, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and anti-gun groups like the Brady Campaign.  Even the president has used the statistic.

“Studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement,” he said in January.

But the Washington Post "fact checker" reported in late January that the number of “gun purchases without background checks amounted to 14 to 22 percent,” not the 40 percent touted by Gregory.

According to Glenn Kessler, the “40 percent” statistic comes from a 1996 survey of just 251 people.

Kessler said that “since the survey sample is so small, that means the results have a survey caveat: plus or minus six percentage points.”

Even considering the margin of error, the numbers still do not come close to the 40 percent used by Gregory.

The Post went so far as to award the claim two “Pinocchios,” indicating it has “significant omissions and/or exaggerations.”

A post at The Right Sphere says the study carefully uses the word “acquisitions,” and not “sales.”

“We conclude that approximately 60 percent of gun acquisitions involved an FFL and hence were subject to Federal regulations on such matters as out-of-State sales, criminal history checks, and recordkeeping. A somewhat higher percentage of handgun acquisitions than long gun acquisitions involved FFLs. The remaining acquisitions, amounting to about 2 million per year, were off-the-books transfers in the secondary market,” the report says.

According to the report, 27 percent of those “acquisitions” were either gifts, the result of a barter or an inheritance.

“That blows the ’40% of guns sales are conducted without a background check’ right out of the water on its own,” the Right Sphere said.

Twitchy wondered: “Will NBC issue a correction?”

Good question.  Apparently, working at NBC means never having to check your “facts.”