Researchers from Harvard University and Northeastern University found that one in five gun owners in the United States, who acquired a firearm in the past couple of years, was able to do so even without a background check.
In a new study published by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, they likewise discovered that the number of gun owners who obtained guns through a private sale and without a background check was considerably higher, which is 57%, in states that don’t have laws of regulating such purchase than in those states that have legislative regulations, which is only 26%.
“This is the first direct national estimate of the proportion of gun owners who obtained firearms without a background check,” lead author Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Miller, who is also a professor of health sciences and epidemiology at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences in Northeastern’s.
The researchers used data from a study in 1994 on whether respondents had acquired their latest firearm from federally licensed gun dealer.
The study estimated that around 40% of conducted gun transfers had no background checks.
Nevertheless, Miller pointed out that the past survey primarily focused on whether the respondents classified their firearms sources as “federal firearms license” as well as where the gun owners got their firearms, without directly asking if the firearms were acquired without a background check per se.
So Miller and his team directly asked and eventually established that 22% of present gun owners in the U.S. bought a gun in the past two years without a background check.
Miller, however, emphasized that it’s unclear as to how much of the obvious decline from 40% to 20% can be credited to differences in survey questions of 1994 and 2015.
Regardless, he stressed that we are seemingly closer today than we were two decades ago to universal background checks.
He also warned that millions of American adults at present still obtain firearms every year without undergoing background checks.
Although a great majority of Americans support universal background check, there are still over 30 states that don’t require background check on sales of private firearms.
“Our research makes the case for the adoption of laws in states that do not currently regulate private firearm transfers, and it underscores the fact that we’re talking about millions of gun transfers annually that pass from one private owner to another without a formal vetting process and so without knowing whether the recipient is someone society deems a lawful possessor of firearms,” said Miller.
The recent study followed another study in 2016 by Miller’s team that revealed the estimated growth of the number of privately owned firearms in the U.S. by over 70 million to around 265 million between the years 1994 and 2015.
Only three percent of the population in the U.S. owned half of the said firearms stock, according to the study.
(Photo Credit: Amy Buser on flickr)