Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham defended Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's false claim that the gun show loophole is not real, while also incorrectly claiming most Americans do not support background checks for gun purchases.
During the January 3 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Bush about President Obama's upcoming executive actions that would reportedly require high-volume gun sellers who do not possess a Federal Firearms License -- such as an individual who frequently rents a table at a gun show to perform so-called “private sales” -- to obtain such a license and run background checks on purchasers. Bush claimed Obama was using a “top-down driven approach” that would not help and claimed the “so-called gun show loophole ... doesn't exist”:
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): But governor, let's talk about a couple of the specific ideas that it seems from all the reporting that President Obama is likely to propose as early as this week. Expand the number of gun sellers who have to conduct background checks. Expand the number of accused domestic abusers who are barred from buying guns. Governor, what's wrong with those specific ideas?
JEB BUSH: Well, because you don't know the details of it, but the so-called gun show loophole, which was I think what he's talking about, doesn't exist. People that want to sell randomly, you know, occasionally sell guns ought to have the right to do so without being impaired by the federal government. If states want to create specific rules around that kind of behavior, fine. As it relates to domestic violence, the state of Florida when I was governor did exactly what he's suggesting, but this top-down driven approach doesn't create freedom, doesn't create safety, doesn't create security, and that's what we ought to be focused on.
The gun show loophole -- also known as the private sales loophole when sales without background checks are conducted online or through other non-gun show venues -- is real, with the best available data showing that up to 40 percent of all gun sales or transfers are conducted without a background check, and the loophole exists in Florida. Even though Florida does not require so-called private sellers to perform background checks on customers, Bush frequently misleads about the strength of gun background checks in Florida.
Appearing later on the show during a roundtable discussion about the upcoming executive action, Ingraham not only said Bush was “right” about his loophole claim, but dismissed polling that shows overwhelming support for background checks, asserting that the claim that 90 percent of Americans support background checks had been “debunked”:
LAURA INGRAHAM: Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the power to enact laws. The president has abused this power. Republicans have largely allowed him to do so. On this issue, given where the Republican Party, the Republican voters are, if the Republicans do not stand up to this in a meaningful and smart way with facts, debunking all the lies, the gun show loopholes, Jeb Bush was right about that -- if they do not do that, I think you will not be able to underestimate the wrath of the American voter next November in a lot of the key Senate races, which I know we've talked about before on this show. This is an issue about liberty and about law-abiding gun owners stopping crime, being allowed to live in freedom. You want to give a gift of a gun to a son. Now the federal government wants to create, perhaps, a national database, which would allow this gun control legislation through executive action to be meaningful. They would need a national database for gun owners, 300 million guns in the United States today. Look at what Texas did at the end of the year. They have a new pro-Second Amendment legislative regime in place, in Texas. Similarly, in Florida, they're considering the same concealed carry law. So I think the president is trying to overreach in his last year in Congress.
INGRAHAM: The 90 percent statistic of all of supporting background checks, that's been debunked. Lots of the myths about gun ownership are perpetrated by people who never much liked the Second Amendment in the first place, and who have a vested interest in amassing more power in Washington, D.C.
Ingraham's claim Bush was “right” about the gun show loophole is incorrect. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 32 states have not expanded their background check requirements beyond current federal law, which allows for private sellers to sell a firearm at a gun show without a background check. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has also estimated that over a quarter of sales at gun shows occur in this fashion, and in an undercover investigation of multiple gun shows in different states, New York City found in 2011 that 19 of 30 private sellers agreeing to sell to buyers who said they probably could not pass a background check.
Additionally, there is in fact widespread support for expanding background checks on gun purchasers. An October 2015 PolitiFact review of the claim that Ingraham said had “been debunked” found that it was correct, noting multiple polls showing between 80 percent and 93 percent support for background checks. Even more recently, a November 2015 poll found over 80 percent support among gun owners for the proposal, including 81 percent of Republican gun owners.
This post has been updated for clarity.