Almost all first-time gun purchases in 2012 were made at retailers or other venues where background checks are required, says study reported by the Washington Times suggesting that most such sales are already subject to the strict checks that have become the centerpiece of the gun control debate. About 7 percent of first-time buyers bought firearms at gun shows, said the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s survey, while 7 percent purchased their firearms from family members or friends.
Those two types of sales have become the focus for gun control advocates, who say every firearms transaction should be put through a background check to make sure guns aren't ending up in the hands of criminals or the mentally unstable. The data, comprising a small sample, could provide fodder for those who say the vast majority of gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens who try to follow legal and safety rules, and that stricter regulations are unnecessary. Other analysts said that focusing on first-time buyers does not capture the gun-owning population as a whole, and less than half of the people who own military-style, semi-automatic rifles — akin to the kinds used in mass shootings in recent years — buy them from the retailers who are subject to background checks.