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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 19-25

This week, readers sent us letters about our recent “Party Lines” post on claims that 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Old Surveys Not Necessarily Wrong

I appreciate FactCheck.org, and while I don’t always agree with the analysis, I do believe FactCheck.org strives to be accurate and nonpartisan. The “Party Lines” post caught my eye [“Guns Acquired Without Background Checks,” March 21], because while the story/post clearly seems to be criticizing the use of the 40 percent, unlike most FactCheck.org stories/posts, there is no effort made to indicate how the figure is wrong.

I understand the only study on this subject is 20 years old and was a phone survey; however, I have never heard the [National Rifle Association] or any gun-rights organization dispute the 40 percent approximation. It would seem to me the fact there is no push back on this 20-year-old figure (which could be much higher today, meaning the gun-safety advocates are underestimating the actual figure) from the NRA et al, would be strong support that the 40 percent figure is in the ballpark of the guns obtained from sources other than licensed firearm retailers. Given FactCheck.org has zero facts to indicate the number used is wrong, and is merely relying on the age of the survey and the sample size and methodology, I think the criticism is unfounded.

Sara Riley
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I am disappointed in FactCheck. Criticizing the Democrats for citing the only available study on gun purchases for its age seems wide of the target. The government has been forbidden by NRA-backed legislation from doing adequate study of gun purchases. Would you suggest we ignore the issue altogether?

Dave Weissbard
Canton, N.Y.