Glenn Kessler fact-checks the very old yet new again claim that 40 percent of guns are bought without a backgroud check. He notes (as did we, John Fund and Politifact) that the figure derives from a 1997 paper based on a 1994 survey of a few hundred people.
So why hasn't anyone updated this? Mr. Kessler explains it is the evil gun nuts standing in the doorway of science:
Ludwig [One of the researchers] acknowledged that “our estimate is clearly not perfect.” He said that a larger sample size would have provided a more precise estimate of off-the-books transactions, but he and Cook were not involved in the design stage of the survey. He added that one reason why the data is so old is because the federal government has generally stopped funding such research.
“While there is no perfect estimate in social science, we’d have a better estimate for this proportion had the federal government not decided to get out of the business of supporting research on guns and gun violence several years ago,” he said.
And a bit later:
There is a bit of irony here. While the 40-percent figure appears overstated and out of date, it remains the most cited statistic on the secondary market because foes of gun control have thwarted extensive research on guns. Advocates of gun controls thus continue to rely on a flawed statistic nearly two decades old.
Oh, please. Congressional foes of gun control have discouraged Federal funding for agenda-driven pseudo-science of the sort typically produced by Elizabeth Warren. But we are talking about a survey of a few thousand people here. Wasn't it only yesterday that we were treated to a new poll every twenty minutes on the latest, latest attitude of Swing State voters on every possible topic under the sun? NO, it was last sumer and fall.
Yet now the news budget of the Washington Post, the NY Times, CBS News, ABC News, et al can't pony up for one new survey dedicated to figuring out who buys guns and where? Even though our President has promised a national conversation on this very topic?
That watchdog won't hunt.