WaPo Misleads on Online Gun Sales (Update: More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia)

Philip Rucker leads the Post today with a story about a study that claims there is a "vast" gun market thriving online that allows gun buyers to evade the background check system. Rucker's story is full of misleading statements.

The marketplace for firearms on the Internet, where buyers are not required to undergo background checks, is so vast that advocates for stricter regulations now consider online sales a greater threat than the gun show loophole.

Misleading statement #1: Buyers are only not required to undergo background checks if they're not buying from a licensed firearms dealer. If you buy online from a licensed dealer, you still have to undergo a background check.

Misleading statement #2: Advocates for stricter regulations are always looking for a new angle from which to chip away at the Second Amendment. They author studies that support their point of view, then act shocked! and demand more regulations. That's how gun-control advocacy works.

A new study by Third Way , a centrist think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, found that thousands of guns, including so-called assault weapons, are for sale online and that many prospective buyers were shopping online specifically to avoid background checks.

Misleading statement #3: If the group has "close ties to the Obama administration," it is not "centrist."

Misleading statement #4: On the question of buyers shopping online to avoid background checks, that's probably true, but there are many reasons that buyers may want to avoid the background check system besides the obvious one -- their being convicted felons or others barred from buying guns. Recent scandals involving how the government uses and misuses personal data highlight just one of those reasons.

The study focused on Armslist.com — a popular classified site similar to Craigslist.org that facilitates private sales of firearms and ammunition based on location — and analyzed listings in 10 states where senators voted against a background checks compromise this spring.

At any given time, more than 15,000 guns were for sale in those states, according to the study, and more than 5,000 of them were semi-automatic weapons. Nearly 2,000 ads were from prospective buyers asking to buy specifically from private sellers, where no background checks are required.

Why break out "semi-automatic weapons" from others? Because in many minds on the left, semi-automatic weapons are somehow more powerful than non-semi-autos. They're not, of course.

Background checks — designed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic violence perpetrators or the severely mentally ill — are mandatory for gun sales at retail stores, but not at gun shows or for private sales, such as between neighbors and family members.