Gun Show Loophole
One of the recurring media phrases about guns is the "gun show loophole", which the media seems to believe allows criminals to purchase firearms without a background check. The only problem is, it doesn't exist.
Sebastian -> Extrano -> The Gun Wire -> NM Telegraph
Remember, a ban on private sales is de facto registration. That's why they want it. They know criminals won't obey laws.
That said, this appears (based on the information at the Telegraph) to be limited to private sales at gun shows, with exceptions for people holding a current concealed carry license in the state.
Regardless, it won't do anything to make life harder for criminals, who don't get their guns from gun shows. It will make it more annoying for honest folk at gun shows, when the delay in a supposedly-instant NICS background check can run up to three days -- by which time the gun show is over.
It is an article of faith that closing the ?gun-show loophole? would make America a safer place. But that is what it is: faith. In 2008, three criminologists (one of them not at all friendly to guns) studied the effects on murder and suicide rates in California (which prohibits private sales without a background check) and Texas (which does not). They looked at homicide and suicide rates for adjacent ZIP codes for a week after gun shows. They found no change in suicide rates, and in Texas, which has no restrictions on private party sales, a small but statistically significant reduction in gun homicides.Read the whole thing. It's short.
Gallup poll on gun control
Subtle, subtle, subtle poison. The overall theme of this poll is that Americans want certain gun control measures with large majorities, but remain opposed to more draconian measures like an assault weapons ban by slim majorities. But they couldn't resist putting their thumb on the scale.
Take a look at the wording on their question about the so-called "gun show loophole": "A law which would require background checks before people, including gun dealers, could buy guns at gun shows."
First, it seems obvious they meant to say "including from gun dealers" rather than what they actually said. What they actually said is nonsensical.
Second, people buying from gun dealers at gun shows must pass a background check already! The difference is that sales by a private individual AT a gun show are not regulated by federal law. (They are sometimes regulated by state and local laws). Now, if that private individual at the gun show is in the business of selling firearms rather than buying and selling guns occasionally for his own personal use, then he must either be a licensed dealer and conduct a background check, or be dealing in firearms without a license and be charged with a crime.
There is usually a BATFE or local police presence at large gun shows to enforce those laws, so someone dealing in firearms without a license is likely to be caught and prosecuted.
So, this gallup poll found a large majority in support of a proposition that is sufficiently ambiguous to overlap with current law. In terms of measuring support for changes to existing law regarding gun shows, it is meaningless.
Background checks for the Fast and Furious
VerBruggen at the National Review argues that background checks on all private gun sales would be an acceptable compromise position on gun control. He's wrong. There are a number of reasons why:
1) Background checks are already performed for all sales by licensed firearms dealers. This includes sales at gun shows.
2) The majority of crime guns are acquired through means other than legal sales. VerBruggen tries to give the impression this means an unknowing sale from a private citizen to a criminal. In reality, it means: stealing guns, a straw purchase from a legal firearms dealer, or an illegal sale between two criminals.
From the Department of Justice:
The data is from 1997, which is older than I would like, but it's what google turned up, and the laws related to firearms sales have not changed since then. Note well: 80% of guns were acquired from either illegal sources (theft, straw purchase, street sale between criminals) or friends and family (which is also illegal if the guns were acquired from friends or family by theft, illegal purchase, or straw purchase).
What does that mean? It means making background checks mandatory for private sales is pointless. Criminals will not conduct those checks on each other, and neither will friends or family members. Your friends and family members already know if you are a criminal or not.
3) The argument that universal background checks would help us hold people accountable for selling guns to criminals and then claiming those guns were stolen is incorrect. First, there are people whose guns *are* stolen. Requiring people who have been burglarized to report their guns missing on pain of criminal penalties is absurd. In fact, we already know how seriously the BATFE takes criminals acquiring guns from law-abiding citizens -- they take it so seriously that they encourage it in programs like Fast and Furious!
4) Universal background checks for all gun sales means registration, and registration means confiscation. In the middle of a gun control debate where politicians are openly calling for confiscating firearms, gun owners are not going to accept a universal background check mechanism that requires them to effectively register every gun they own or sell with the police.
Miguel Garcia to introduce gun control in New Mexico
"If we're able to keep one individual from being injured," Garcia said, "one individual from being killed because of our lack of intestinal fortitude to provide for background checks on the purchase of a weapon at gun show, to provide background checks upon the purchase of a weapon by an individual seller, if it's just one person who is not injured or one person is who not killed, that itself is an accomplishment."This is not just a "loophole" bill. The legislation will require, if it passes, a background check -- performed via a phone call to the Department of Public Safety -- on ALL private gun sales. This will not just affect gun shows; you would be required to call the police and ask permission to transfer your firearm to a friend or a family member.
Note that it is already against the law to transfer a firearm to a felon or someone who has been ruled mentally incompetent. It is already illegal for either of those categories to possess -- and thus to purchase -- a firearm, whether in a private sale or not.
It also changes nothing about the requirement of licensed firearms dealers to conduct a background check on all of their transactions. Anyone operating a business buying and selling firearms must have a federal firearms license, and is required to conduct a background for all sales, including sales at gun shows.
In addition, the requirement to contact the local police for every private sale of a firearm in New Mexico would make it easy to build a practical registration list. Such a list would not contain every firearm, but any firearm bought or sold legally in New Mexico would be effectively registered with the state.
Of course, criminals won't bother to call the police when they buy and sell their own guns.
If that leaves you wondering what the point of the law is, well, that's simple: to discourage private ownership of firearms by honest citizens through legal harassment.
The Gun Show Loophole
One of the favorite topics of the anti-gun lobby is the supposed "gun show loophole", which somehow makes it OK for criminals to buy guns, so long as they do it at a gun show. Sounds pretty horrifying, doesn't it? If only it was actually true.
The fact of the matter is that there isn't a gun show loophole at all. Gun sales are under the same laws as all other firearms sales (in states that have not enacted tougher requirements already) -- that is, if you are a firearms dealer you need to run a background check before selling a gun to an individual. If you are NOT a firearms dealer, you can make a private sale to someone else without the need to conduct a background check. But according to federal law, you must be a dealer if you make a living selling firearms.
When the anti-gun lobby speaks of the "gun show loophole", what they are really talking about are private sales. In the United States, it is still legal to own property -- firearms -- and sell that property without government permission. If you want to sell a gun, you can sell it to a dealer, or you can try to find a buyer yourself -- perhaps a friend of yours, or a friend of a friend, or by taking an ad out in the local paper... or by taking the firearm to a gun show.
Since private citizens do NOT have access to the NICS instant-check system brought into being by the Brady Bill, there is no way for them to conduct a background check for a private sale. Thus, they can sell without that check. Otherwise, they couldn't sell at all, or they would be forced to pay a tax to run a check through a licensed dealer -- surely an overly-restrictive process for most private sales.
Part of the confusion stems from the number of private sellers at gun shows. There are often quite a few, and sometimes they have a large number of firearms for sale. Some of these individuals may appear to border on being firearms dealers. Why are they making private sales rather than obtaining dealer status? Because the government is discouraging them from doing exactly that.
It used to be fairly easy (if invasive) to become a firearms dealer. You got yourself fingerprinted, possibly talked to your local police, and filled out some forms for the BATF. That gave you legal license to act as a firearms dealer (and the legal responsibility to conduct background checks). However, in recent years, the BATF has begun a campaign of harassment intended to reduce the number of licensed dealers, and this campaign has targetted first and foremost those licensed dealers without a formal storefront -- ie, those individuals who registered as dealers because they did a large amount of firearms business, but who did not have it as a full-time occupation.
These were the individuals spending a lot of time buying and selling at gun shows -- the "almost dealers" we see today in many cases were dealers before the BATF made it too troublesome to retain that status for something not a full-time occupation.
Sure, there are others making private sales. These are mostly people selling off their gun collection, or that of a deceased relative, or people selling one or two guns at a time and buying about that many back. These people aren't selling lots of guns over time; those selling collections reach the end of their collection and stop selling, and those who are just interested have a low volume overall.
So if there are lots of people making private sales at gun shows... blame the BATF. They don't have to harass people doing the right thing by becoming dealers, even without a standard storefront for their business. But they did, and do... and as a result, the gun show "loophole".
The state of Virginia is considering legislation requiring 30 days prior police notice for "gun shows", defined to include any "gathering or exhibition" of two or more persons, in which one of the purposes is to exchange, sell, or trade firearms; the same bill also includes a requirement to provide the police a list of vendors and exhibitors in the show.
I find myself wondering if the author of the legislation intended to include any private sale in the definition of "gun show", and am forced to conclude that, probably, the answer is yes.
Those of you in Virginia should probably be calling your legislators about now.
Those of us watching from the sidelines, however, can ponder this extra amusing piece of gristle in the legislative sausage:
The provisions of this section shall not apply to firearms shows held in any town with a population of not less than 1,995 and not more than 2,010, according to the 1990 United States census.That has GOT to have been written to exclude a specific town from the bill. Probably the legislator's hometown or some such favoritism, written to avoid being technically "favoritism" because it applies to all towns of the right size... and just happens to define the "right size" narrowly enough to exclude all but one.
UPDATE: Reader Standard Mischief has identified the legislator responsible for this particular bit of gristle, and is trying to identify it specifically. Check the comments for more.
"The town's primary claim to fame is its Hillsville Flea Market (more properly known as the VFW Flea Market & Gun Show), which has been called the largest American flea market to the east of the Mississippi River. It is held twice a year; in 2004, the Labor Day show attracted 650,000 visitors, and the Memorial Day show attracted 250,000 visitors. Vendors and customers have arrived from as far away as Germany, Africa, and South Korea."Well isn't that interesting. "Let's regulate all the gun shows -- except this one."
Police chief shuts down gun show
I've heard of legislating from the bench, but legislating from the police chief's megaphone is a new one. Gun Owners Foundation is reporting (via Heartless Libertarian) on a case in Washington State where the local police chief went to a gun show and announced, on the floor of the show, that only licensed FFL dealers were allowed to sell guns there -- without any backing legislation, just his fiat.
That's what I call a police state, folks.
Illinois has decided to close a loophole that doesn't exist. The governor has signed a law requiring "unlicensed [gun] dealers" to conduct background checks on potential purchasers. The problem is, there's no such thing as an unlicensed dealer -- either you are a dealer (in which case, you should be federally licensed) or you are a private seller (in which case, you need not be). There's some question as to where the dividing line between those two categories should be, but if the BATFE thinks you're a dealer and you aren't licensed, they will try to put you in jail.
What this bill really does is require gun buyers to register their intent to purchase a firearm with the police and obtain permission for each purchase. In short, it's registration. However, since Illinois already has something they call a Firearm Owner's Identification Card, they already have registration of owners; this is just registering each purchase individually as well.
It's silly, and stupid, and won't do a damn thing to help. But in terms of the state of liberty in Illinois, it's a salami slice rather than a large bite.
Hat tip to Alphecca.
This is what I call a deal with the devil. It's this sort of strategy that got us here in the first place. If we continue to compromise, and to meet gun bigots "halfway" in some kind of good-faith bargain, we will continue to lose. Any gun owners in Illinois who understand that should undertake to educate the rest.
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