Misfire: Everytown’s ‘Hiding In Plain Sight’ Report Is Pretty Much A Lie

Matt Vespa
|
Posted: Jan 29, 2015 10:15 AM
Misfire: Everytown’s ‘Hiding In Plain Sight’ Report Is Pretty Much A Lie

Okay. The anti-gun movement has reached a whole new level of incompetence. Recently, Everytown for The Elimination Of The Second Amendment Gun Safety released a report called “Hiding In Plain Sight” that analyzed illegal gun sales in Vermont.

They noted how Vermont is a model for gun safety, and has a tradition of gun ownership; more than two out of five households owns a firearm in the home. Vermont actually has very good gun laws being a state with constitutional carry (i.e. you don’t need a permit to conceal or open carry).

Yet, the dark world of the Internet has cast a shadow over Vermont’s Second Amendment tradition. Here’s the report’s executive summary:

But in the 21st century, gun-owning Vermonters also go online — to a growing number of websites where anonymous buyers and sellers exchange firearms. As this investigation shows, they are more likely to imperil their fellow citizens in this virtual marketplace than perhaps anywhere else: when a Vermonter lists a gun for sale online, they have a 1-in-24 risk of transferring it to a criminal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The bedrock of firearm safety in the U.S. is the background check system. Felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people are prohibited from buying guns, and federal law requires all licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks and deny gun sales to anyone that meets these criteria.

But the system in Vermont is flawed by a fatal loophole: individuals selling guns in “private,” unlicensed sales — often online or at gun shows — are exempt from the background check requirement. Today, numerous websites function like Craigslist, connecting anonymous strangers that want to meet offline to buy or trade for guns in unlicensed transfers. This gives criminals and other dangerous people an opportunity to obtain guns with no background check, no questions asked.

This investigation set out to determine how many of these unlicensed gun sales are taking place online in Vermont, and what risk law-abiding Vermont gun owners run by participating in this marketplace. By placing ads on websites where Vermonters sell or trade guns and sampling the would-be gun buyers who responded, this investigation yielded first-of-its kind findings about the volume of these transfers and the threat they pose to public safety:

  • Vermont’s online market for guns is vast. Each year in the state, an estimated 3,000 guns are transferred in unlicensed online sales on just three websites — as many as 24 percent obtained in trades for other goods rather than purchased outright.
  • One in 24 people in Vermont trying to buy or trade for a gun online is prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted domestic abusers and illegal drug traffickers profiled later in this report.
  • This is six times higher than the share of Vermonters who try to buy a gun at a licensed dealer and fail a background check, which suggests that criminals may be intentionally exploiting this loophole.
  • The share of domestic abusers trying to illegally buy or trade for guns online in Vermont is 32 times higher than the share of Vermonters who try to buy a gun at a licensed dealer and fail a background check due to a domestic violence record.
  • At this rate, in a single year, just three websites in Vermont put an estimated 126 guns into the hands of felons and domestic abusers.

First, both sides can agree that the mentally ill and convicted felons should not be able to own firearms. That being said, as Bearing Arms’ Bob Owens aptly noted, this report does not present a shred of evidence that any firearm was sold illegally:

We now know that at least six of the firearms advertisements cited in the report were not from “unlicensed private sellers” as Everytown falsely claims, but from federally licensed firearms dealer Crossfire Arms of Mount Holly, Vermont.

I [Owens] spoke to Crossfire Arms owner Bobby Richards just a short time ago, and he is understandably livid about Everytown using images of six firearms that he had for sale on Armlist to help falsify the anti-gun group’s dishonest report.

All of the firearms Mr. Richards lists for sale on Armlist are accompanied by photos that Mr. Richards takes himself, and perhaps as importantly, Mr. Richards watermarks each image with the Crossfire Arms company logo.

Put bluntly, Everytown’s report not only drew false conclusions not supported by the data they’d acquired, but at least some of the data itself is demonstrably false.

Mr. Richards is in contact with legal counsel to investigation whether or not Everytown may be the target of a civil suit for falsely asserting that Crossfire Arms violates federal laws that require him to conduct background checks with every gun sold through his business.

Owens noted that this isn’t the first time Everytown has shown their skill at publishing shoddy reports. Remember that school shooting report that even left-leaning Politifact declared was “mostly false?” Yeah, that was Everytown. FactCheck.org and CNN also noted the inaccuracies.

In reality, the frequency of school shootings hasn’t risen above levels set in the 1990s. Oh, and mass shootings–to broaden the area of inquiry–aren’t becoming more frequent either.

Owens also provided photos of the firearms in question. He added that Richards, being a FFL dealer, is required by law to conduct a background check on all firearm sales.

Last note: Before Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) joined forced with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to form Everytown For Gun Safety, MAIG hosted a “No More Names” bus tour in 2013. Supporters would read the names of those killed by gun violence since the horrific Newtown shooting. At the Concord, New Hampshire stop, they listed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, as a victim, which wasn’t taken too kindly.

So, screwing up seems to be a hallmark characteristic of this group.