Tuesday, January 5, 2016
And you thought the broccoli salesman has a tough job!
I just listened to the President outline his plan to put an end to the "gun show loophole" and other measures to reduce firearm deaths in America. I'm not sure people not interested in firearms understand what the gun show loophole actually is. Let me shed some light on the subject for you:
There are hundreds (?) of gun shows every weekend in this country. Interested vendors can rent a table from the gun show promoter and then display and sell their offerings. Many vendors sell peripheral things like holsters and cleaning kits and ammo and such, while actual gun dealers sell their firearms.
You or I cannot buy a gun directly from Smith & Wesson or Colt or Sturm Ruger. If you inquire they will direct you to a federally licensed firearms dealer. These dealers buy from the factory and sell to individuals, but they are first required to submit the buyers names to the Feds for an (almost) instant background check. If the Feds say OK, money and guns can then change hands. The dealers are routinely audited by Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and are rarely a problem. These are the rules all licensed dealers follow, regardless of whether they are selling off a gun show table or from a brick and mortar store.
But the law says an individual can sell directly to another individual WITHOUT a background check. If I want to sell one of my personal guns to a friend or relative, for example, I can. That's not in question. This is the scenario the law meant to allow.
The problem comes when an individual buys guns from wherever he can find them all week long, then takes them to a show, rents a table, and resells them for a profit to anyone who plops down their cash....WITHOUT A BACKGROUND CHECK. That's the gun show loophole. He might claim they are his "personal" guns, but that's a farce. He might own them, but they are just products for sale. It's just a way to make $$$ without doing any paperwork. It's a cash business, no receipts exist, it's totally anonymous, and of course no taxes are collected from the buyers or paid by the sellers.
I can think of three groups who might buy from an unlicensed seller: Those who can't pass a background check, those who prefer buying used guns (most of the guns sold through these sellers are pre-owned) because they are less expensive than buying new, and those who can pass a background check but simply don't want the government to know they own guns. To them it's a privacy issue.
I don't think many of us have any sympathy for the group that can't pass a background check. They can't pass a check for a reason. And I doubt many of us would have any prejudice against those who just want to save money. But I DO think many of us have a problem with allowing their names to be added to a government database that identifies them as gun owners.
The argument goes that with such a database as a starting point the government could build on it until they knew exactly who owns what guns and where they are. Then it's just a matter of time before the ATF knocks on your door and says "hand 'em over" *. It's this potential "mission creep" that worries gun owners.
And honestly, who trusts the government? If you've ever dealt with the government at virtually any level, it's pretty obvious they don't act like they work for us. It often seems like the tail is wagging the dog. This is the problem.
It's our government's habitually abysmal performance and blatantly non-transparent way of doing business that the NRA so easily exploits. The NRA can hit that hanging curve ball out of the park all day long. Until people believe their name will never appear in a background check database, at least this part of "gun control" will be a hard sell.
* Never gonna happen. By noon on the first day of "Operation Gun Roundup" there would be dead ATF agents littering the landscape. Resistance would be violent, extreme, and widespread. Not even the government is dumb enough to try it.