Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Drug cartels and guns

What is going on in Mexico? Some, like GOP Arizona Governor candidate Jan Brewer, have accused illegal Mexican immigrants of being responsible for the violence in Arizona. She would be wrong. This is a drug/gun problem. Check out this article about the Mexican drug cartel. Just today, Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center, wrote this article about the problem with Mexican violence and the drug cartel. Helmke points out the obvious and the now accepted knowledge that the U.S. is providing most of the weapons of murder that have taken the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Mexican civilians and elected leaders who are either caught in the crossfire or dare to speak up against the drug cartel and their cronies. This is serious stuff. How can we go on providing weapons of mass destruction to another country and turn away from one of the main causes of the massacre? I submit it is because President Obama and his administration are running scared from the NRA's supposed power to influence our policies about guns, gun violence and even our relationship with a neighboring country.

The NRA and it's most vocal and adoring members are just plain not interested in preventing gun injuries and deaths. I have found that out while writing this blog. Whenever I write about real people and suggest that we can do something to prevent real people from being shot to death or injured, I have been attacked for lying, trying to ban guns, for being naive, for providing "anecdotes", for not knowing what I am writing about, for being a shill, etc. No wonder President Obama backs away. It is not easy to fight against this kind of false reasoning and name calling. Bullying and harassing I call it. So while the NRA holds on to it's power, thousands of people are losing their lives in Mexico. 

Secretary of State Clinton's remarks, from Paul Helmke's article above, came home to me on Sunday when I attended a forum at my church. Here is a summary of what she said:" On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Mexico’s drug-trafficking gangs were starting to resemble an insurgency, similar to the elements that corrupted Colombia." Her remarks were discussed while listening to a Colombian mother and her two daughters talk about the tragic story of watching their husband and father assassinated by a gun before their very eyes. They were in their home when members of the para military came to their door wielding weapons. This man was an elected official in his small town in Colombia. The woman and her two daughters escaped but the situation in Colombia was too dangerous for them. They sought political asylum in the U.S. and are now living in a suburb of Minneapolis. They were brave enough to stand before us and share their tragic story. 
This exhibit piece was produced by a child named Alexander. The red on either side depicts blood. It speaks for itself.

My church was the host of an exhibit, now touring the U.S. called "Remember Me, Voices of the Silenced in Colombia". The exhibit is sponsored by Lutheran World Relief. It consists of posters with art work, much of which was produced by children. I found some of them so compelling and so emotional that I asked to take some photos.( I hope you will click on the above link to see more of these exhibit pieces)  Here is one of them, to the right. I could not apprehend a child drawing such a scene but this is what they are seeing. In Columbia, the U.S. has been criticized for aiding the government and the para military indirectly by providing money and weapons

When children make art work like that on display at my church on Sunday, something is terribly wrong. I am fortunate to belong to a church where Social Justice is considered a positive, as opposed to the view of Glenn Beck who has said that you should leave your church if social justice is promoted because it is a code word for Nazism and Socialism. This is so anathema to everything I believe and so "un-Christian", that it begs for those of us who believe the opposite to challenge this man. If social justice issues, such as doing something about the violence in Mexico, Colombia and our own country, for that matter, can be equated to Nazism and Socialism, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. By the way, check out this link. There was actually a shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge involving a Lebanese man who shot up some Jewish people. Some things never change. 

So yes, the situation in Mexico and Colombia can be linked and yet they are different. American gun dealers, either in their shops or at gun shows, are providing the vast amount of the guns traced to the shootings of Mexican citizens. There is a direct link from U.S. gun dealers to Mexican gun deaths. I have already written about the Minnesota Mexican American who provided weapons to the Mexican drug cartel. He bought his guns at gun shops in Minnesota. Why can't we stop this? We can, if we have the will.


  1. What a lie Japete,

    The NRA and it's most vocal and adoring members are just plain not interested in preventing gun injuries and deaths.

    We can disagree on how to prevent injuries and death but to say what we aren't interested is a flat out lie.

    The issue is what lengths are people willing to go to reduce death and injury.

    We could mandate that all cars be driven by only city/county/state employees who are especially trained -- so that we can reduce automotive deaths and injuries, right?

    Are you willing to give up your car in order to do that?

    We could mandate children not be allowed to play sports -- that would reduce death and injuries. Are you willing to tell children no more sports?

    What you see as common sense and reasonable -- has not been shown to reduce death and injuries, yet you want to try it anyways.

    Sorry but lying about our desire to save lives is wrong.

    I have already written about the Minnesota Mexican American who provided weapons to the Mexican drug cartel. He bought his guns at gun shops in Minnesota.

    And again, what law that you propose or endorse would have stopped this person from buying firearms?

    Simple question. Let's have a thoughtful discussion about how the changes you propose would actually stop criminals, eh?

  2. The ATF was notified by an astute gun dealer that this guy was buying a lot of guns at one time- usually suspect. He was charged with gun trafficking and all sorts of other things and is now awaiting a trial. Laws stopped him from what he is doing. I am not lying about you guys. You don't seem one bit interested to me in PREVENTING gun deaths and injuries. We are pretty sure that some new laws would work but we don't know because we haven't passed many. People who drive cars have to get a license. Not just anyone can drive a car. Also, cars are registered to their owners. Sports- I am so happy that there are new rules coming out for safety equipment so my grandchildren can avoid some injuries in the games they play. Seat belts are mandatory as are air bags- simple measures that have saved lives. Did you work against those? Do you wear a seat belt? Do your children? That's what we're talking about- not banning anything- making things safer, Bob. I wish I thought you cared but you haven't shown by any comments made here that you do.

  3. And yet Mexico has strict gun control. They've got the kind of gun control that would make Paul Helmke & The Brady Campaign giddy with excitement if they could get it passed here in the U.S.

    Mexico has a CRIME problem caused by PEOPLE and by the illegal drug trade. (there's also a corruption problem)

  4. Yes, why do you think people have to come across the border to buy their guns? Because they can't get them in Mexico. Hardly anyone can buy a gun legally in Mexico. But the U.S. gun dealers are more than happy to supply them. And therein lies the problem which was the point of my blog in case you missed it.

  5. not banning anything- making things safer.

    BS. The Brady Campaign supports and advocates banning guns every chance they get.

  6. Absolutely not true. You are lying.

  7. Again, just when I think we have reached a new low, we sink lower. Calling someone a vile bigot and a ghoul is totally immature and certainly will not be published here. If you guys think you are amusing others or that this is all funny, I'm glad I don't know you personally. I wonder again if the people in your lives would be proud of you for writing such nonsensical blather to people on the internet. I'm happy I don't know men who behave this way. You guys definitely fit the part of "men behaving badly". Have a nice life. I hope your hatred won't eat away at you. Your ugly comments might get a laugh from others like you, but you are in the minority, thankfully.

  8. A simple question for the gun rights folk: If you have no criminal or mental record, how do you suffer from background checks at gun shows?

    (Must be the exorbitant fee, like what the FFLs add on to their gun prices?)


  9. A simple response to Shooter: If you have nothing to hide, how do you suffer from a warrantless police search of your belongings, or from being compelled to answer a few questions?

    It's fashionable, nowadays, to regard freedom as nothing more than a means to an end. For instance, many people think democracy is a higher-order value than liberty, and so advocate for things like campaign finance laws. Similarly, the underlying philosophy of the modern gun control movement is that safety is a higher-order value than liberty; hence we must restrict liberty in various dubious and oftentimes ineffectual ways in the hope of saving lives.

    I think the reverse is true. To the extent that liberty and safety are inversely correlated -- and it has never been proven to my satisfaction that's actually the case, but assuming it is for the sake of argument -- I will always and everywhere pick freedom over safety. Thus, I object to background checks not because they're some monumental inconvenience or expense -- they're not. I object to them because (a) I do not trust that government bureaucrats, susceptible to political pressure from groups like the Brady Campaign, will always administer a background check system in good faith; and (b) even if I did, exercise of fundamental constitutional freedoms should never be subject to prior restraints outside of minimal and neutrally-administered time, place, and manner restrictions in public spaces.

  10. Shooter:

    FFLs here (where we have no private sales for pistols) typically charge 35-50 dollars to do a transfer. Since you're a sale they aren't making, they have a right to demand to be paid for their time. Just requiring all sales to go through FFLs is not a solution. If they want universal background checks, they have to come up with another solution. But they won't, will they?

  11. Yes, why do you think people have to come across the border to buy their guns? Because they can't get them in Mexico. Hardly anyone can buy a gun legally in Mexico.

    Hardly anyone can buy a gun legally. Hardly anyone can traffic marijuana and coke legally either, but they do. Take a look at the gun I linked to on there, and tell me how that's coming from the US. Where can you buys grenades at a US gun show?

  12. " Not just anyone can drive a car. Also, cars are registered to their owners."

    Actually, anyone can drive a car, as long as they are on private property. A license is only needed to operate a vehicle on a public road. Same for registration. If a car never leaves private property, it never has to be registered.

    As for the Brady Campaign supporting and advocating gun bans, that's absolutely true. They supported both Chicago's and DC's, handgun ban. They continue to push for an "assault weapons" ban. They also cited Mexico's gun ban as something the US should try.

    Once you add up all the bans the Brady Campaign supports and advocates, the only guns left are of 19th century technology.

  13. Shooter,

    Right now I don't suffer the check.

    I also didn't suffer the fees when my father gave me 3 firearms before he passed away.

    I'm guessing you don't have a problem with it costing $20 and up per firearm for a father to give his son firearms eh?

    I'm guessing you don't have a problem with the background check fee adding $20 or more to each firearm --- making it cost prohibitive for many poor people to afford firearms, eh?

    I'm guessing you don't have a problem with the government maintaining inaccurate records (e.g. Senator Edward Kennedy was on the No-fly list), eh?

    I'm guessing you don't have a problem with being treated like a criminal and having to prove you aren't before you buy a private piece of property, eh?

    The FFL's don't add on the cost of the background check, it is built in to their overhead.

    Get a bunch of people walking in to do nothing but background checks and they will be spending time doing that instead of selling guns. Think they should do it for free?

    By the way, is every area in the United States served by an FFL within easy driving distance?

    Oops, forgot that aspect. Now we've added yet another cost to the price of firearms; can you say "modern day poll tax"?

  14. Brett, a better analogy is the security check at the airport. Traveling by air and buying a firearm at a gun show are both voluntary actions, and the majority have, if reluctantly, decided to opt for safety over liberty. Same with driving - liberty to drive at any speed while ignoring traffic signals - not so good.

    How would a background check be administered in "bad faith"? And, why?

    Sebastian: $35 to $50 for a FFL's service does seem a little steep. But, as for a sale the FFL is not making, how many more sales might a FFL make if the competition was made level by requiring all sales at these shows to have background checks? If I were a FFL at a gun show, I would support this, and be willing to do the transfers for a lesser amount, if necessary.


  15. People who drive cars have to get a license. Not just anyone can drive a car. Also, cars are registered to their owners.

    Let's unpack that a bit. Gun control advocates like to compare gun licensing and registration to the equivalents for cars, seeing it as justifying whatever their current push is. So let's talk compromise. We'll ignore for a moment the crucial fact that keeping and bearing arms, unlike driving on public roadways, is an enumerated Constitutional right, and give you the benefit of the doubt. Would you be willing to regulate guns the way we regulate cars?

    That would mean that anybody can buy a gun without registering it or getting anybody's permission as long as he keeps it on his own property. It means that registration and licensing are issued to anybody who can pass a simple written and practical test, the training for which begins in school, and that those documents would allow people to carry their guns in public in all fifty states with very few restrictions, most of which revolve around negligent use of the gun or car.

    From the consumer's end, guns are regulated far, far more strictly than cars. In the spirit of compromise, would you be willing to let go of the heavier burden to get the licensing and registration you want?

    I ask because I don't know you. Many, many gun control advocates talk about public safety, but knowingly advocate policies that primarily burden lawful gun owners without affecting criminals*. They talk about "compromise" while refusing to give anything up; they really just want to get more restrictions each time. But again, I don't know you, and don't want to tar you with the same brush.

    So let's talk compromise. What are you willing to give up to get licensing and registration?

    [* - I know; I live in New Jersey. Right now, I'm dealing with the second complication in a gun permit application that wouldn't be required in most other states. The process is annoying and expensive, and could have a severely burdensome effect in some cases, and is completely unnecessary as it's redundant with the federal background check required at the time of purchase. Its only purpose is to burden legal gun ownership.]

  16. Too many comments. I can't respond. And if I decided to, you guys would be all over me and be blogging about my comments and sending them around the blogosphere like a bunch of old gossiping ladies. There are a few thoughtful comments here, actually, for a change but I don't have time to respond. Later.

  17. Shooter:

    You're assuming there would be an economy of scale that would be a plausible argument in another industry, but the way firearms are regulated makes economies of scale difficult to take advantage of. Big FFLs don't even want to deal with transfers, generally, because it cuts into sales. Smaller FFLs, in states that don't ban private transfers will do them for fees ranging from five to ten dollars, because demand for the service is low.

    If you raise demand for the service, like what has happened in Pennsylvania, which doesn't allow private transfers of handguns, the price of transfers goes up. In any other type of industry, this would cause more FFLs to enter the market. But because of how ATF restricts FFLs, this is difficult. To get an FFL, you basically have to be in the business of selling guns, have a store front, and keep regular hours. It also costs 1000 dollars for the license, and subjects you to inspection by ATF. It's not something people are generally going to do unless you plan to open an actual gun shop, and if you open a gun shop, you're going to want to sell guns. Because of increased demand, and constrained supply, the price of a transfer is going to quickly rise to whatever dealers typically make off a sale. In my area, at least, that's about 35-50 dollars.

    Granted, in Pennsylvania, Sheriffs can do the transfer, but there's only one in each county, and they don't keep convenient hours for these types of things. You also have to weigh whether it's an efficient use of law enforcement resources to have police doing such things, rather than catching criminals, and deterring crime.

    But this is what I mean when I suggest that the just requiring all transfers to go through FFLs is not a solution we're going to be OK with. I've transferred more than a few long arms privately. All of them to people I know well enough to know they aren't prohibited persons. That's the case for the vast majority of transfers that happen. I am not, per se, against the idea of universal background checks for transfers, but the solutions currently proffered are not acceptable, and even if they were, you could never guarantee that it would come out of the sausage grinder of the legislature acceptably.

  18. It's just not true, from another thread about the Mexican Gun Canard:
    Sebastiantheguywithnoblog Says: 150,000 Mexican soldiers have turned tail and left the Army in the last six years. See here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/03/11/mexico.desertions/index.html
    It’s highly likely they’re taking their full-auto rifles with them. Why go to the danger and effort of importing rifles on the sly and at great expense, and then trying to convert them to full auto when guys splitting from the Mexican Army can just bring their already full auto rifles with them?
    It’s also worth noting that the types of munitions the cartels are using in addition to rifles (explosives, grenades, man-portable rockets and anti-armor weapons) aren’t for sale at any US gun shops, as they’re regulated by the NFA and are prohibitively expensive even for those with the Title 3 tax stamp to by them. They’re not buying TOW rockets and Claymores and grenades at US gun shops…those are clearly war materials coming from the Army (presumably from corrupt officers and deserters). No reason to think they’re not also getting rifles that way.
    Additionally, why should Mexican drug cartels steal weapons (or buy them in the US) when they can get them free from Hugo Chavez? His client organization of narco-traffickers in Columbia, FARC has reportedly begun operations in Mexico - and Venezuela has manufacturing plants for making AK's. There's a reason the Left propaganda pictures always shows their "freedom-fighter" holding up an AK and not an American AR, it's "their" rifle.
    Also the cartel-guys who got shot-up in Nuevo Laredo shootout back in July were carrying more AK’s than AR’s.

  19. Yes, it's usually a bad idea to avoid any ATF regulations when you are selling guns. Some of my posts have been about "bad apple" gun dealers. It seems like a good idea to me to have people who sell deadly weapons to be checked up on occasionally by regulators. It might save a few lives which is always a good thing.

  20. I guess you missed the part about 80-90% of guns used in the gun crimes in Mexico are traced to the U.S.

  21. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/mexican-crime-american-guns/story?id=11574583&page=2

    ""We can say that there is enormous violence in Mexico and most of the killing is done with guns and most of the guns used in the killing are originally from gun dealers in the United States," said Arkado Gerney, one of the report's authors."

  22. Sebastian:

    I think I understand where you're coming from, but, I'm talking strictly public gun shows, not your average inheritance, or sale (or trade) with your neighbor, family, etc. These gun shows have long been "candy stores" for the prohibited, and will probably become more so as local L.E. working with ATF crack down on straw buyers and rogue FFLs.

    The FFLs at the shows I frequent are small businesses - some, at least, not even full time at it. I can't see the volume from private sellers at these shows being a burden for transfers by FFLs. Plus, during the few minutes it typically takes, the FFL has a potential customer looking over his merchandise, and possibly making a purchase of ammo or accessories.

    I see it as a win-win for the FFLs and public safety. And, hopefully, a better image of gun shows in the eyes of the none-gun owning public.


  23. Shooter, I addressed this further, but many of my posts aren't being approved.

    The bottom line is that the current "criminal background check" system also asks questions unrelated to criminal background, which make it trivially easy for government to compile a gun registry, which violates US law.

    Drop those questions, drop the fee, and open the background check system to the public so we don't need to use FFLs, and the problem is solved.

    If the goal really is just to get background checks, then the Bradies shouldn't have an objection to this compromise.

  24. Elmo,

    What questions on the 4473 don't you like?

    Walk me thru a background check by a none-FFL, in your scenario.


  25. The NICS system is ostensibly intended to determine whether the purchaser is a prohibited person, but it doesn't ask "who is the purchaser". It asks "Who is the purchaser, and what's the make, model, and serial number of the gun he wants to buy" [the 4473 has a variety of other questions that are silly, but not really a problem]. The identity of the gun is irrelevant to the background check, and requiring that information, again, makes it trivially easy to create a de facto gun registry. We must trust our rights to an opaque government system and a promise not to abuse it, something no reasonable person from any part of the political spectrum should find appropriate. [We can discuss whether a registry is a good thing, but it's a separate and much more contentious issue that shouldn't hold up universal background checks if they're really the goal of this push.] This is the big reason most of us value private transfers: without them, we already _have_ a gun registry.

    I'd suggest a system in which the NICS checks ask only for the identity of the purchaser, are free, and can be run by any person with access to a phone or the internet. The system doesn't need to go into detail--it only needs to say yes or no--and disqualifying conditions are mostly a matter of public record anyway, so privacy concerns are minimal. An open NICS system wouldn't be much more illuminating than a Google search.

    This would eliminate all of our major concerns about private-sale background checks: there'd be no cost, essentially no inconvenience, and most importantly no backdoor registry. I think background checks are useless in practice, but I'd support this measure as a beneficial compromise.

    Given their past record, I strongly suspect the Brady leadership _wants_ private-sale background checks to be expensive, to be inconvenient, and to pave the way for a universal registry, so I doubt they'd go for this.

  26. Suspect away- doesn't make it true. Shooter- any response to this one?

  27. [shrug] I give the Bradies' rank and file supporters the benefit of the doubt, but the leadership engages in calculated incrementalism. A casual supporter can be forgiven for assuming that a gun that looks like a machine gun is a machine gun, but somebody whose full-time job it is to push these laws can't honestly think a ban on pistol grips and barrel shrouds is a top-priority public safety measure.

    That's understandable, of course. The NRA engages in calculated incrementalism, too. All advocacy organizations have to, if they want to be successful. But that means it's reasonable to watch them with their end goal in mind. The Bradies think they'll improve the US by making guns much harder for ordinary citizens to own and carry, so it's necessary to evaluate their advocacy in that context. It's reasonable to suspect that this is about more than background checks, just like Heller was about more than having a handgun in your home.

    But don't get me wrong; it makes little difference in practice. If they're willing to play ball and compromise, we can come to an agreement whatever each side's end goal is. If they aren't willing to give up the onerous side effects of the current system, then we just can't make a deal.

    So how about it? Would you accept a bill that "closed the gun show loophole" but eliminated the unrelated burdens and extralegal surveillance potential of the current NICS system?

  28. " But don't get me wrong; it makes little difference in practice. If they're willing to play ball and compromise, we can come to an agreement whatever each side's end goal is. If they aren't willing to give up the onerous side effects of the current system, then we just can't make a deal. "

    Who's dealing here? Who's the "we" in your statement? I don't believe that those of us on this blog are in any position to be dealing. "If they're" going to play ball? Really? Only one side has to "play ball"?

  29. We're on a blog, speaking hypothetically. If all conversation here must be limited to what we specifically have the power to make happen, we'll have little to talk about. :)

    The phrase "play ball" indicates that both sides are cooperating. I'm saying, hypothetically, that I'm willing to compromise by giving you expanded background checks, even though I think they're useless in practice. I'm asking if you, hypothetically, would be willing to compromise by giving up the cost, inconvenience, and extralegal surveillance potential of the current system to get those expanded background checks, which you clearly think are important and useful in practice.

    You've said you want to talk about common ground and compromises, and that's just what I'm trying to do. :)

  30. Understood. I am still in no position to state that I would make a deal about anything really. I would have to study what you are saying- don't have time now.Besides, if I say anything on this blog about a deal, you guys would be all over it and sending it to your friends and making more comments and ridiculing me about what I have said. But I get what you are saying- you are making a hypothetical statement. I am less free than you to make any statements hypothetically because of the nature of the ugly discourse so far in this discussion. You may be an exception here but others are not.

  31. not refusing- just cautious. remember, I am just a person blogging on my own- no one is telling me what to do but, I can only do so much as far as change goes since I am not in Congress where the laws get passed. That is where deal-making will happen. My positions are pretty well stated in my blog. That doesn't mean that won't change but as for the details you are suggesting, I am not in a position of making any deals. We can discuss but even hypothetical "deals" will be misconstrued. More later.

  32. Not to argue the meaning of the Second Amendment, but just to refer to it. In part, the basis of where I'm coming from relates to the first 13 words. And, it appears that the U.S. Supreme Court, in Heller and McDonald, agrees with their significance. Otherwise, why allow any infringement?

    Motor vehicle ownership without documentation, for example, would be chaotic. Plus, drivers are more "responsible" partly because of their "connection" to and their liability for the cars they own.

    Similarly, many gun owners would be more "responsible" if their connection was documented. There already is an amount of chaos because of the lack of such documentation.

    I must not fit Elmo's definition of a "reasonable person from any part of the political spectrum" because I, as a gun owner, don't see a problem for me in regard to such documentation. And, for that reason, I have no problem buying firearms from FFLs. I believe most gun owners feel as I do, and therefore, also would fall short of such definition.

    If I were in Elmo's camp I would have a problem reporting a stolen firearm because that would be admitting I own one, and maybe more.

    At the same time, it appears to me that there still is an effort in D.C. and Chicago to make gun purchases and ownership more difficult than necessary to accomplish reasonable goals.

    I also believe state and local firearm regulation will always have limited effectiveness. What's needed is well written and well applied federal law.

    Bottom line: I'm okay with the Brady Background Check requirement - at least in principle - and would prefer to see it apply to private firearm sales at gun shows, as well. Going through FFLs at gun shows would be both fair and efficient. The system isn't perfect, but it is necessary.

    Doesn't look like there's room for agreement on much.


  33. I must not fit Elmo's definition of a "reasonable person from any part of the political spectrum" because I, as a gun owner, don't see a problem for me in regard to such documentation.

    You misunderstood me. I said "We must trust our rights to an opaque government system and a promise not to abuse it, something no reasonable person from any part of the political spectrum should find appropriate."

    The right in question was our legal right not to be registered in a database (US federal law prohibits the ATF from keeping and compiling NICS data, so it is a legal protection we have however you interpret the Second Amendment). No reasonable person thinks an unverifiable government promise to obey the law and respect citizens' rights is all that's needed.

    Again, the cases for and against a registry are bigger than this comment thread can accommodate; it's another discussion. But given that making a registry in the US _is_ illegal at present, there's no need for the ATF to ask those questions. They're legally forbidden from using the answers. If you believe universal background checks are necessary, why hold them hostage on this point?

    ...I have no problem buying firearms from FFLs. ... Going through FFLs at gun shows would be both fair and efficient.

    Again, why insist on it, though? Many of us object to the added cost and suppression of competition that comes with requiring the participation of FFLs in all transfers. Whether it bothers you isn't really the issue. What makes it so necessary that it's worth refusing to compromise on?

    The point of this push by gun control advocates is supposed to be that we need background checks on private transfers. I'm willing to concede on that point in exchange for a few minor concessions. You state that you don't mind the things I object to, and therefore there "[isn't] room for agreement on much"?

    Finding common ground doesn't mean that we all have to be strongly invested in exactly the same things.

  34. Shooter,

    Are you saying that documentation of your ownership of firearms would make you more responsible then you already are?

    Or are you talking about the people who already lie about buying guns for themselves when they are making a straw purchase?

    The other aspect to consider is that mandatory registration would not stop any violence.

    Period, end of story.

    Show me the evidence that says it does.

    We currently have laws against murder....do we have criminals going "Oh Gee Willikers, I was going to kill someone today but I just realized I can't because it is against the law."?

    Nope, in the same way people wanting to commit violence will regardless of the law.

  35. Elmo, I may have missed a distinction you were making.

    Yet, there is reason for the 4473 identifying the firearm being purchased - currently in the first sale at retail from a FFL - for criminal investigation purposes if the gun in question becomes involved in a crime. In subsequent transfers between private parties the gun essentially becomes untraceable for legitimate investigation purposes. I am assuming that the FBI/ATF already has, or can create, a computer program that would identify a FFL who has processed any such subsequent transfers of a particular firearm recovered in a criminal investigation.

    I acknowledge that this traceability has no bearing on the qualification of a person to purchase a firearm, yet it can be critical to bringing those to justice who would do harm with it. And, it would be a tool in going after straw buyers in the secondary market.

    The cost to process such transfers is a "negotiable" item. I would like to know the impact to the taxpayer, but "free" might work, since the general public is a stakeholder, and perhaps should bear the cost.

    If a firearm is ever recovered as lost/stolen, or as a "crime gun", traceability is critical. Otherwise, the government has no need to know about your guns or mine. And present restrictions on the FBI/ATF should keep it so.

    I agree that opaqueness in government can be a problem, but for everyone in all walks of life. Perhaps that is an issue best left for discussion at another time.


  36. Yet, there is reason for the 4473 identifying the firearm being purchased - currently in the first sale at retail from a FFL - for criminal investigation purposes if the gun in question becomes involved in a crime.

    This is a misunderstanding of how the NICS system and firearms traces work. Again, it is illegal for the ATF to use NICS traces to build a registry, for criminal investigation or for other purposes. They're legally required to destroy the identifying information after running the background check.

    The system we use to run traces on crime guns is deliberately constructed to avoid a registry. When a gun is found at a crime scene, the police call the manufacturer, who tells them what wholesaler bought that gun. Then they call that wholesaler to find out what dealer bought it. Then they call that dealer to find out what individual bought it. If you want to extend the existing trace system through to private sales, it would be a matter of requiring private sellers to keep equivalent records.

    The NICS background check data can't be kept or compiled by the ATF, and if they broke the law and did it anyway, it or any evidence it led to would be inadmissable. If the data must be destroyed after collection, it's kind of weird to refuse to give up that collection, even when it's holding up the universal background checks that are supposedly so essential.

  37. The form 4473 is the transfer document retained by the FFL, and is what the FFL uses in notifying the ATF of who purchased a particular firearm. My point is that private transfers conducted thru a FFL, generating a form 4473 and retained by that FFL, might enable the ATF to trace that firearm. I'm sure a special computer program would be required that identifies a FFL to the transfer of a secondary firearm sale. No registry involved - at least not more so than what exists now when a suspect firearm needs to be traced. The ATF would have no knowledge of who sold or purchased a particular firearm until contacting the FFL.


  38. In the states that have passed the gun show background check laws, the private seller transfers the firearm to the FFL who then does the background check. It is legal according to the state laws. This would be the same in any federal legislation. It would be legal to do so under provisions of the bill allowing private sellers to do the transfer in order to do the background check.

  39. Shooter said:
    No registry involved - at least not more so than what exists now when a suspect firearm needs to be traced.
    japete said:
    ...the private seller transfers the firearm to the FFL who then does the background check.

    Let me see if I understand, then. You guys are saying that you're not prepared to drop the requirement that NICS checks be done only through FFLs, and that to be satisfied, you want not just background checks on private sales but also for our current recordkeeping provisions to be extended to private sales.

    If this is the case, then we seem to have a general agreement on one core point. Since our current recordkeeping system for traces doesn't require the submission of the gun's identity at the time of the check (and fundamentally can't use that information in an investigation), there's no need for the NICs process to collect that information. Drop the make, model, and serial number questions from the 4473 form, and enter that information into the FFL's bound book as for all other firearms sales, and we've addressed both sides' concerns. It allows all legally conducted private sales to be traced just like dealer sales and, as Shooter said, is no more of a registry than we already legally have.

    The added cost is still an issue, but it's one that can be remedied through compromises I assume aren't too controversial. Do as Pennsylvania does and allow private transfers to be processed for free at any police station*, with the police doing the same recordkeeping and FFL does, and the issue's largely dealt with. Put a free police-run transfer kiosk at every gun show, and you don't even have an inconvenient burden on gun shows.

    Again, in a world where most criminals just illegally have friends and family with clean records buy guns for them, I think background checks are almost completely useless as public safety policy. But if it's really that important to your side, I think we can find a workable compromise.

    [* - With accessibility requirements. Living in New Jersey, I've seen how far anti-gun PDs will go to make _any_ process as difficult as possible. New Jersey's fingerprinting requirement is used as a weapon by some departments, which will make fingerprinting appointments only for a few hours a week, and only when most people are working.]

  40. Elmo, the 4473's first yes/no question asks whether the person is the actual transferee, and warns against buying for another. Then, the certification above the buyer's signature makes it clear that it is a felony to falsely answer yes to that particular question. Without having the make, model, and serial number of the firearm listed on the form, there's no connection between the buyer's certification and what purchase he/she is certifying to.

    This form is important evidence against straw buyers, and probably serves as a deterrent for some, as well.

    I believe you're well aware of this - which makes me wonder still why you object to the 4473 and the NICS process as it stands now.


  41. This argument doesn't make any sense. Apart from the fact that the on-penalty-of-perjury statement could easily be a separate document retained by the FFL if it's really that crucial, a universal check system would make it a crime to make an undocumented transfer of the gun anyway. You wouldn't _need_ a statement about the purchaser being the ultimate owner, because giving it to another person without another background check would be a crime under all conditions.

    Look, this is getting absurd. It's seven days and 40 comments after the initial post, and still we're arguing over whether gun-control advocates should give up anything whatsoever. This is why compromise ends up being impossible. I have to doubt how essential a universal background check system is to public safety if its supporters are willing to give up on moving it forward to preserve one potential piece of evidence in a hypothetical perjury charge tacked on to an ironclad illegal transfer charge.

    I won't assume bad faith and accuse you of _wanting_ a backdoor registry. But the matter is very simple: a registry is both unnecessary for tracing crime guns and completely unacceptable to the gun-rights community, and the current NICS system paired with universal background checks makes that registry trivially easy to compile with or without legal authority. The government's unverifiable promise not to compile the information sent to it is simply not enough protection. As the system stands right now, undocumented private transfers are frankly required to render any illegally compiled data unreliable.

    If we want to talk compromise, we can talk compromise. If the only possibility you'll accept is the current system plus a requirement to do all private transfers through an FFL, then compromise is fundamentally impossible.

  42. Elmo, we're not quite on the same page. I've been talking about private sales at gun shows - sounds like you're looking at "universal" sales and background checks. That would be a good thing, but not likely to ever happen on a national level, I don't think.

    As a practical matter, I'm for the 4473 and going thru FFLs. If another way of doing it is workable, that would help prevent straw purchases while accomplishing background checks and traceability, I'm okay with it.

    Keep one thing in mind, though. If it weren't for "law abiding" gun owners - prohibited people would not have guns.


  43. Shooter writes: "This form is important evidence against straw buyers, and probably serves as a deterrent for some, as well."

    Citation needed.

  44. Another article about the Mexican drug cartel and U.S. guns- unquestionably most of the guns used by the cartel are coming from our own country- http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/09/23/mexico.foreign.minister.interview/index.html?hpt=C2