The Gunshow Loophole

There has been a lot of clamor in the press about an insidious loophole where anyone can go to a gun show and buy a gun that they would otherwise need to submit to a background check to purchase. The way the concept is presented makes it seem like there is some magical thing about gun shows that exempts gun dealers…holders of a Federal Firearms License (FFL)…from following laws that would otherwise apply to the transaction. Well, for those who wish to know the truth, here it is:

There is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between transactions that take place at a gun show and transactions that take place elsewhere. Let’s clarify that. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAWS APPLY, whether the sale is at a gun show, at a gun store or at your house. One of the terms bandied around by the media is “unlicensed gun dealer.” Well, there is no such thing. To be a gun dealer you must have a FFL. There are unlicensed dealers at gun shows but they don’t “engage in the business” of selling guns. These “dealers” trade in holsters, belts, ammunition, clothing, food and many other items. Some may even sell a few of their personal firearms while they are at the show, but they do not sell guns for a living. If they did, you can rest assured that the undercover agents that frequent ALL gun shows would waste no time in locking these people up for a very long time. It is perfectly legal for anyone to sell their personal property, including firearms, so long as they comply with the laws. These laws apply no matter where the sale takes place…even at gun shows. So to say that criminals can purchase guns more easily at gun shows is a fallacy. For the real numbers on where criminals actually do get there guns see our previous post here.

Now let’s look at the fallacy of “closing the gun show loophole.” A friend and colleague, Alan Korwin, pointed out that this so-called loophole is actually freedom. So if we to replace the word “loophole” with the word “freedom” you would see how scary this statement really is.

If we prohibit this loophole freedom we would need to perform a background check on every transfer, even if it is just to loan a shotgun to your best friend for a hunting trip.

If we abolish this loophole freedom we could not enforce it without requiring that every gun be registered. Current law actually prohibits gun registration by the federal government as an insurance policy against mass confiscation of firearms. However some states do have gun registration in various forms. A quick look at history shows that gun registration is a necessary step to facilitate confiscation. As recently as the 1930’s Nazi Germany instituted a gun registration. The next step was to disarm the Jews, making them defenseless. When the Nazi’s invaded France they disarmed that population as well, minimizing resistance as a result. Conversely, countries such as Switzerland and the United States have not been invaded, largely because there are guns in almost every household.

If we enact laws to end this loophole freedom, we will create a situation where normal, law abiding people accidentally become felons just because they share a safe with a family member. Just letting your shooting buddy try your gun could make you both felons.

If we pass anti-loophole freedom legislation in the name of public safety we would be making it more difficult to teach proper gun handling to new shooters, creating a much MORE dangerous environment for all of us. Just as with operating an automobile, education is the key to safety with firearms. Even those who don’t own guns should have a basic familiarity so that if they encounter a gun unexpectedly they can check to make sure it is unloaded and know the basic safety rules of handling it.

But perhaps the most important thing to think about is that the Second Amendment was stated in the Bill of Rights to confirm the natural right to self preservation, self governance and independence…the very values that inspired our Founding Fathers to risk everything. The fact was…and still is…that an armed populace insures a nation of free individuals. That is the reason the Constitution of the United States (and most of the individual State constitutions as well) confirms that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It is the reason that you, as part of the governance of this country, should oppose any efforts to restrict gun ownership by the general population.

Some believe that confiscation couldn’t happen in the United States. But recent history contradicts this. In 2010 a Torrence, California man was ordered to turn over his firearms after a disagreement with his doctor’s office resulted in a restraining order. Among the 21 firearms seized there were many family heirlooms. After the case was settled the courts ordered the guns returned to their rightful owner, but the police refused. Eventually monetary compensation was made, but the guns had been destroyed and treasured pieces of family history lost forever. In the more firearm-friendly state of Arizona, a property dispute caused a 56 year old veteran to lose his $25,000.00 gun collection because the neighbor, who had been parking stinky chemical trucks in front of the house, filed a harassment suit. The authorities confiscated the firearm collection. Since the passage of the SAFE act in New York there have been reports of confiscation and revocation of gun licenses. Some of these are reportedly without due process. Some cases are where the gun owner had been prescribed anti-anxiety medication (have you taken Chantix to help you quit smoking or been prescribed a sleep aid?). There are stories of guns being confiscated and destroyed after the owner dies instead of allowing them to pass on to the heirs. We are not talking about a few cases, there are reports of nearly 40,000 people in New York alone being affected by this.

As of today, with the exception of a few states, there is no gun registration in the United States. When you go to a gun store or gun show and purchase a firearm from an FFL you pass a background check. There are exceptions in some states for those who hold concealed carry permits, but those people had to pass a background check to get that permit, so they have still been “through the system” so to speak. The FFL keeps a record of who that gun was sold to in case the FBI needs to trace the firearm. Once you own the gun it is yours to do with as you wish (within the confines of the law). You may later sell or gift it to someone else, provided that you don’t knowingly sell or give it to a person prohibited from having it. You are not required by law to keep any record of that transaction. This was deliberate on the part of Congress to prevent a de facto gun registration. So if freedom is important to you (and it should be!) then you should care about protecting the Gun Show Loophole Freedom that we enjoy in this country.

What do you think?

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