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.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Legal or not; that is the question

Well, it has been an interesting few days of discussion again on my blog. Before we were on a "merry-go-round". Now we are on a teeter totter going back and forth and up and down with whether or not it is legal for a private seller to sell a gun to a felon or other prohibited purchaser. My commenters are getting upset with me because they insist that it is totally illegal and anyone who does so should be arrested. And yet, in 34 states, it is not illegal for a private seller to set up shop at a gun show and sell lots of guns to anyone without a background check. Now some of these folks won't sell if someone tells them they can't pass a background check. But if you check out the videos I linked in my The slippery slope post, you will see that others will just wink and sell the gun for cash, with nary a question asked.

Here is a good explanation of gun shows and the exception to the background check requirement granted to "occasional sellers" in the Brady Bill. This Wikipedia article, admittedly not always the best source, seems to provide a good synopsis of the "gun show loophole" as it is called. It cites various studies that I have used as sources in other of my posts and also cites some which I have questioned. At any rate, it is clear by the reports of hidden camera videos and photographs and reports by the ATF, that gun shows are a source of crime guns and that some unlicensed sellers readily sell to people who could be felons and other prohibited purchasers. Some of them do so knowingly, some not. My commenters wonder why they are allowed to get away with this if it is, indeed, illegal to sell to prohibited purchasers. I have been writing that as long as we have not made it illegal to do so, these private sellers are not technically doing anything illegal. The ATF can only monitor about 2% of gun shows a year given their underfunded agency. Obviously, it is difficult to monitor all gun shows for irregularities or actual illegal activities.

Just to offer more clarity about the back and forth, here are a few comments about this issue from my readers: 
  • We have no gun show loophole here and you cannot legally bring in a gun form out of state without proper paperwork. If the firearm is on the states AWB list it is NOT importable without special permission." ( writer is from MA)
  • Requiring background checks -- nope, won't do it. If a person wants to (s)he can sell the firearm without going through a dealer. That leads to registration."
  • And yet that is already illegal. It is illegal for felons to purchase firearms, period, no matter who is selling them. It is illegal for felons to possess firearms ever. The things you are complaining about are already illegal - are you aiming for Double Secret Probation or something?"
  • It's never legal for a prohibited person to buy a gun under any circumstance, background check or not. It's not legal for any seller to knowingly sell a gun to a prohibited person. This is current law."
  • You are talking around in circles. It IS illegal for anyone to knowingly sell a firearm to a prohibited person. It is illegal for any prohibited person to buy or possess a firearm. It IS illegal. You are basically saying.. because criminals are breaking the law by doing it, we should make what they are doing illegal. Why is this not so hard to understand? It is illegal to drive a car over the limit of intoxication. Yet people drink and drive. I guess we should make driving drunk, illegal. That is the same argument that you are making here."
  • "  I make money by selling guns to dangerously mentally ill felons who are also domestic abusers. I go to gun shows, buy legal guns with no background check, and sell them in the 'hood for a tidy profit. To stop this, laws are passed requiring a background check for every firearm sale. I now go to the gunshow, buy legal guns, pass the background check because I make sure to keep squeaky clean, and then drive right down to the 'hood and sell them anyway. Nothing is solved. SELLING GUNS TO FELONS IS ALREADY ILLEGAL, be it a FFL transaction or a private sale. I know this is hard to follow, but CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY LAWS."
  • "  I've been to lots of gun shows in various states (East Coast), and I've never seen anything like what was in Bloomberg's videos. Every table dealer at any gun show I've ever been to has been a licensed FFL. The folks in those videos are already criminals, because they're unlicensed dealers. If Bloomberg could find them, ATF can too, and ATF should. Unlicensed dealers help nobody but themselves, and need to get legal or get thrown in prison."
  • We HAVE made it illegal. You can repeat this claim 1000 times and you will still be wrong."
  • This is also already illegal. It is a federal felony to purchase a gun in a state where you are not a legal resident of that state. You talk as if I can just hop on over to PA, MD, or NJ and buy a gun. I can't. As a DE resident I can't legally purchase a gun in another state and transport it back to DE."
  • "  Apparently you missed the part where I mentioned it is a FEDERAL FELONY.This means it's illegal   in ALL STATES."
  • "  Actually, it IS illegal to be in the "business" of trading firearms without a Federal Firearms License. That is defined somewhat vaguely but anything along the lines of making a profit on a transaction (even a single one) or a significant volume of sales is being in the business. This is a federal thing, and does not vary by state. So, it is totally legit for someone to sell a few firearms to clear out their safe, or to trade an old gun they no longer desire, or to sell guns in order to further a collection (in the case of FFL03 C&R holders). It is NOT legal to buy and sell firearms on a regular (or semi-regular) basis with the intent of making a profit." 
  • Just so you know: Federal law mandates that anyone "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must register as a FFL and conduct a NICS background check for all firearm transfers, regardless if it's at their store, their home, or a gunshow. Gunshow dealers who sell firearms to criminals are breaking the law. More legislation will not fix that."
The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agency has a very clear statement about the tracing of crime guns and how they work with law enforcement to find out where crime guns came from in the first place. There has also been a back and forth about that. Here is a good link to the ATF and crime gun tracing that offers a good explanation of how this works. It is clear from this document that there is a way to trace crime guns to the original owner. All gun sales start out as legal sales and then some end up in the hands of prohibited purchasers in various ways. In order to properly prosecute criminals or discover evidence in a crime, it is important for the ATF and local law enforcement authorities to work together. This will only help us all in the end and particularly law enforcement agencies and victims of crime. The system is not meant to punish law abiding citizens as some of my readers are sure it does. If you read this document, you will see how careful the ATF is to do a trace only when asked by local law enforcement in a "bona fide criminal investigation." Rights of law abiding citizens are protected.

And finally, this question was asked of me: " In the interest of discussion, will you agree that it is a "private buyer" loophole and not a "gun show" loophole so we can move past that issue?" I like this question because it actually furthers the discussion and could lead to something productive. It goes back to my blog about semantics. Maybe we go around and around and back and forth because we are talking about different things. Certainly you can see by the comments above that people in states that have stricter gun laws may not have had experience with gun laws in other states such as my own where laws are different. That has been my point all along but maybe I have not made that clear enough. And, of course, that is why many like me want a national law to deal with the background check inconsistencies that can lead to guns in the hands of prohibited purchasers. 

So we teeter totter and teeter on the edge of common ground, not reaching it. The facts do support what I am saying, though. In many states, it is just plain NOT illegal for private sellers to sell to anyone (which could include prohibited purchasers) without background checks. The proof has been offered in my links to videos and reports. I don't know how it could be construed to be any other way. I am not sure why my commenters are so vociferous in their denial of the facts. If they have nothing to fear from going through a background check at a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer where they are already required, I don't know why they should object to requiring them on all gun sales at gun shows.  Background checks on all gun sales at gun shows makes common sense.

71 comments:

  1. Again, even in states where there is a closed 'loophole' and individuals are required to have a license to own a firearm (revoked if they become a prohibited person) the BC supports expanding the laws.

    Would you support the opening of NICS to non-FFL holders?

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  2. I'm not sure exactly what you are getting at with your question.

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  3. Illinois residents must have a Firearms Owner ID card to legally purchase a firearm. The Brady Campaign complained that they were not also required to get an additional background check for each and every purchase. I think it is very unlikely that background checks at gun shows will satisfy you--Rather, it is an incremental step towards registration.

    Fighting gun registration is a top priority for many of us, whether the registration is explicit or via some other mechanism.

    If you really would be satisfied with background checks at gun shows as a stand-alone goal--Suggest and support proposals that can not be misused as back-door registration. Don't tie the background check to a particular gun, allow people with existing valid gun licenses to bypass the check, even at a gun show. Allow the background check system to be used for non-gun purposes.

    The question about NICS checks--Would you support allowing ordinary people at a gun show who are not licensed gun dealers being able to run NICS checks, or do you insist that background checks must go through a dealer? Or something else that I haven't thought of?

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  4. Minnesota residents must also have a permit to acquire or a transfer permit for handguns and assault type rifles. It is good for one year. Those who have this permit do not need a NICS check from a FFL. Local law enforcement in my city and county would like the local check in addition to this. But if someone is to bypass the check at a gun show, they would need to apply for and get one of these permits. That then, would require everyone to have one of these yearly permits if they are to purchase at gun shows. Those permit holders go through a more stringent local background check. That is a good thing. At gun shows, private sellers would take the purchaser to a FFL for the background check, They would not do the checks themselves. That is the way it works in states that have required background checks on all sales at gun shows.

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  5. Is there a reason you don't want private sellers to have access to the NICS check themselves?

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  6. This is not a matter of what I want or don't want. I assume there is a good reason why only those who are properly licensed have access to a sensitive data base. As of now, that is the law.

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  7. Japete, regarding the legal vs. illegal topic, I’d like to offer up my point of view for clarification. These transactions to prohibited persons that you are referring to ARE illegal in all 50 states. The second a felon takes ownership of the gun, one of the police officers at the gun show can slap the cuffs on them right then and there. That is from the buyer’s end. It is also illegal from the seller’s end if they had any indication that the buyer is prohibited. Now, like with anything else that is illegal, you have to be caught doing it in order to get busted. What you are talking about is more legislation to help curb illegal transactions through a system of checks. And yes, those private sellers in the videos ARE doing something illegal if they don’t check to see if the buyer is a resident of the state.

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  8. That feels like a cop-out when you consider that currently it is also the law that private sellers don't need to do background checks and you would change that.

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  9. Minnesota residents must also have a permit to acquire or a transfer permit for handguns and assault type rifles. It is good for one year. Those who have this permit do not need a NICS check from a FFL

    This is incorrect you still have to do the Federal NCIS check even with a permit to acquire. It is not the states option it is Federal law.

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  10. I don't think you would still have to do a NICS check if you have the one year permit to acquire. Only those who do not. And then they would have to undergo a transferee permit before getting their gun.

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  11. Patrick, it is not a cop out. I can't comment on this because this has not been offered in any of the bills to require background checks. It is always assumed that FFLs would need to do the NICS checks because they are already licensed to do so. If private sellers want to do those checks, perhaps they want to become FFLs. Having said that though, I don't think that just any private seller should have access to the NICS. That is my opinion only. I do not speak for any organization when saying this and it has not come up in any discussions I have had. I am surprised that you think that would be a good idea given that you don't want very many people checking up on you or recording anything you do.

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  12. I tend to agree with Joan here. Part of the design of the system was requiring FFL's to have a license to use the system. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with anyone being able to call the ATF and ask if I'm prohibited or not.

    Where I depart with her is on the necessity of checks at all. I'd get rid of the whole system and return to guns being sold over the counter at the local hardware store or www.AmazonGuns.com

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  13. I didn't say it was a good idea. I'm just getting a feel for what you propose and don't propose and why you feel that way. The only way to come to any common ground is to understand the other person.

    Sevesteen asked a question which I felt you dodged by saying that it isn't current law, yet what you propose is also not current law so really anything is on the table, no?

    It would be foolish to assume that you understand what I think or don't think simply by my merely asking questions.

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  14. First of all, I can't believe you agree with me, Sean. As to rest, are you serious?

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  15. No, not trying to dodge the question. And you are right, what I propose would also change current law but it would be more consistent with what is already done and not as complicated as what you proposed, Patrick, in my opinion. As to that last statement, I must remind you that many of the people commenting on my blog do that very thing- they pepper with me questions expecting answers and then go after me with a vengeance for my answers and use them on their podcasts and blogs. It's rather dangerous to respond honestly to questions asked by you all.

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  16. Of course I'm serious. Can you point to any evidence that administrative restrictions on the sales of firearms have reduced violent crime? Since you can't, why should we continue the failed policies?

    Public policy should be the result of facts and evidence. Since there are no facts to support your position, and no evidence to show that restrictions have achieved any aim beyond annoying the honest citizen, your policy should be dropped. Can you argue that there is some reason that we should continue to do something that has failed to produce any useful results?

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  17. It's impossible to know since we haven't tried it yet, Sean. That is why we want to pass the law.

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  18. "It's impossible to know since we haven't tried it yet"

    I'm not talking about your future laws. I'm talking about the Brady law. And the Gun Control Act of 1968. And the National Firearms Act of 1934.

    We need to repeal them all since there is no evidence that they have had any effect on violent crime rates.

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  19. Forgot a remark.

    I didn't propose anything. Sevesteen did. I just said that you seem to have dodged the question with an answer that was not consistent with everything else you have said "it's not current law". However, your rebuttal to me is a better reply in my opinion.

    I honestly don't know where Sevesteen is going with that question, but I'm interested in seeing.

    Just to be clear, you don't see a reason to let non-FFL's access to NICS. They would have to go to an FFL to get the transaction approved?

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  20. This has been discussed before on my blog. There is not point in repeating it. Can we talk about something that will add a new dimension to this "discussion"?

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  21. No, I don't and yes they would. I have answered this now at least 2-3 times so I'm done with this one. Time to move on.

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  22. The NCIC is MANDATORY for every FFL purchased firearm it is part of the 4437 paperwork. I am surprised that you dont think this is mandatory as the Brady bill of 1993 made it so. It is federal law and whatever MN decides to do as far as permit to purchase that does not change the federal law. Below is from the FBI website

    "The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm—by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands. It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers.

    Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn't otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials."



    The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm—by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands. It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers.

    Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn't otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.

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  23. Access to NICS is simply a phone number. There is no "database" they would have access to.

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  24. Here in MA we have a FID that required a NICS check to get. Your cannot sell or transfer a firearm without a valid FID card. The transfer requires registration (form FA10). It's so involved that if my married partner wanted to give buy or give me a rifle we would both have to have FID, FA10 and any federal paper if purchased new. All of that is under penalty of law if not done. So it's NOT legal to Give or Sell a firarm here unless both parties have minimally a FID or LTC that required a NICS check to initially get.

    This means any person with a FID is both registered and their firearms are registered. There is good reason then to keep a good record of where a firearm came from and goes to as it is traceable.

    Eck!

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  25. How about if we call it the Private Sale Loophole and we eliminate it completely, not by making the database available to everyone, but by requiring each transfer to be done with the assistance of an FFL guy who can conduct the background check?

    What's so hard about that?

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  26. The problem, MikeB, is that once you do that the .gov can simply make it prohibitively expensive and/or difficult for FFL's to open & operate.

    If the only FFL near you is 100 miles away and charges $50 or $100 per transfer because there's no competition then you've just made it prohibitively difficult for a lot of law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms.

    Given that Obama advocated passing a law that would have banned my personal FFL as well as many throughout the entire country it makes sense to have a legal means of buying guns that is not under direct Federal control.

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  27. How about if we call it the Private Sale Loophole...

    I like this suggestion. It would be nice if national organizations were up front about what they really want to prohibit.

    but by requiring each transfer to be done with the assistance of an FFL guy who can conduct the background check?

    I don't understand the requirement for the FFL. What special powers do they possess that the requests should come through them? Why not let anyone make that call to the NICS hotline?

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  28. I think there might be a communication issue preventing clarity here. A felon buying a gun from a dealer at a gun show involves two out of these three criminal acts:

    1) Purchasing a firearm as a felon. Illegal by federal law.
    2) Failing to register as a firearms dealer. Illegal by federal law.
    3) A firearms dealer selling without conducting a NICS background check. Illegal by federal law.

    As you can see, the occurrences you cite already violate multiple federal laws. All reasonable gun owners fully support enforcement of current gun laws. Those lawbreakers should be caught and punished.

    However, what a lot of us gun owners object to is onerous regulation of private sales. A private individual selling a gun, or a few guns a year, is not a business. Selling a car does not make me a car dealer. I think you'd find that the percentage of privately sold guns (*NOT guns sold by dealers who break the law by not registering*) that end up being used in crimes is tiny.

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  29. As I have said over and over and over again- yes sir, it is legal to sell guns to felons in most states that have not passed a law to require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows. Private sellers are more than just people selling occasionally. Some of these private sellers sell hundreds of guns a year at gun shows. That is a fact that cannot be avoided. We have more than enough proof. I'm sorry you don't like the facts but they are what they are. These sellers, as I have said, ad nauseum, CAN sell guns to anyone with no background check and nary an I.D. It is not illegal to do so if we have not made it illegal. In my state, people can buy guns without background checks from private gun sellers at gun shows. The sellers may not know who they are selling to, but they could be selling to felons, domestic abusers and other prohibited purchasers. I'm sorry if you missed all the previous debate about this. I am not lying.

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  30. "As I have said over and over and over again- yes sir, it is legal to sell guns to felons in most states that have not passed a law to require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows."

    I think you are not coming across clearly enough.

    1. It is illegal for a felon to purchase a firearm at a gun show from anyone.

    2. It is legal (that is, not federally prohibited, your state may vary) for a private individual to sell a firearm to another private individual if a reasonable person would conclude that they could not know that person was a felon.

    So the transactions you are describing are already illegal on the part of the felon but not necessarily illegal on the part of the seller.

    That's where the legal/illegal part is coming from. Japete is referring to the seller while some of the others are referring to the buyer.

    Am I correct?

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  31. "Some of these private sellers sell hundreds of guns a year at gun shows."

    Then they are NOT private sellers as we have said over and over again. They are unlicensed dealers who are breaking the law. You cannot sell firearms as a business without an FFL. This is not hard to understand. It is common sense.

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  32. If somebody sells 1000 guns a year, they are indubitably a gun dealer. They are not a private seller. They may not be registered as a dealer, in which case they are STILL a de facto dealer and are BREAKING THE LAW by 1) not registering as a dealer and 2) selling firearms without the NICS check.

    People who make a living (or any amount of money) on firearms sales are considered dealers and required to register, and conduct NICS checks. This is a FEDERAL law, which trumps ALL state laws, and the people you mention are BREAKING that law. What is so hard to understand about this?

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  33. Patrick,

    Did you watch the videos of gun shows? One man even admitted to having sold hundreds of guns and was a private seller. Yes, some of these people sell many guns at gun shows. Some display dozens of guns as well while others walk around with one gun on their shoulder with a sign posting the price. Some private sellers display their guns at many gun shows in one state every year. Whether or not the seller is doing something illegal is for law enforcement and the ATF to determine but, as has been noted before, the ATF can only monitor 2% of gun shows in a year because of their inadequate funding and staff. Who will report these sellers? Would you?

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  34. "So the transactions you are describing are already illegal on the part of the felon but not necessarily illegal on the part of the seller."

    No. Knowingly selling to a prohibited person (felon, etc.) is a criminal act.

    "Did you watch the videos of gun shows?"

    Show me the arrest records. Or the convictions. Or any evidence that law enforcement was involved. Otherwise, it was just a stunt. If you have evidence of a crime and you don't turn it in to police, you are just as guilty.

    Bear in mind, if you (or a colleague) go to a seller and claim to be prohibited ("I can't pass a background check") he can conduct a citizens arrest on you on the spot and turn you over to the cops.

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  35. "Who will report these sellers? Would you?"

    I would! If he appeared to be a dealer. That said I have never ran across a person like shown on that video at a gun show. I have see the guy walking around with a rifle on his shoulder but I think that should stay legal. Every time I have purchased from a private seller he has wanted to see a Drivers license and my Permit to purchase Or Carry permit

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  36. Again, you missed the point of the videos, Sean.

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  37. Anthony, Some of those private sellers did ask to see Drivers Licenses in the videos. But then, a few of them, when the "buyer" said he didn't have his license with him, the sellers just asked if the "buyer" was a resident of the state. When the person on the hidden camera video said yes, the buyer sold anyway. So there are times when it works differently than your experiences.

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  38. "So the transactions you are describing are already illegal on the part of the felon but not necessarily illegal on the part of the seller."

    No. Knowingly selling to a prohibited person (felon, etc.) is a criminal act.

    Sean, if you read the rest of my post, you'll find I already said that. Therefore the "not necessarily illegal" part. It is illegal if they are KNOWINGLY selling to a prohibited person. It is not illegal if they are UNKNOWINGLY selling to a prohibited person.

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  39. Ms. Peterson,

    The sellers that are part of the problem -- the ones that appear to be selling large quantities of firearms -- are really illegal dealers. In addition to violating firearms laws, I'm willing to bet that they are also violating federal tax laws. After all, if you're making a profit, then you need to pay self-employment tax and income tax! But if you're not licensed, then you don't want to report that income...

    So, given that these individuals who are already engaging in multiple criminal acts, what makes you think that they would follow a law requiring them to administer background checks? They are already operating illegally and under the table.

    The way to close the Private Sale loophole is to implement a comprehensive firearms registry which is a non-starter for me and many other relatively reasonable people for "common sense" reasons (based on real world experience in the states and countries that have them). I'd prefer to focus on enforcement of current laws.

    I would support resourcing the ATF at a higher level if they reformed and showed themselves to be a less corrupt and more effective agency. The ATF seems to often violate precepts of modern, effective community policing. They alienate the community that they need to work with to catch the bad guys. I think it might also help if Congress spun off the Firearms & Explosives sections from the A&T and provided more explicit guidance to remove some of the overly broad regulatory powers that ATF has now.

    Cheers,
    Chris from Alaska

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  40. I have seen the videos aka "the publicity stunt" and if Brady and/or Bloomberg has not turned them over for prosecution, they are complicit.
    I have said this before on your blog and several times on mine. If the videos are so damning, why haven't there been prosecutions?

    And yes, I would turn them in.

    As you have noted, the ATF can only do so much, so why hasn't your group helped them with evidence that you say proves people are breaking the law? And why would we believe that enforcement of yet another law would happen when.. as you say.. they can only monitor 2% of traffic?

    And what of the buyer that was apparently buying illegally in the video? Did Bloomberg and his people ask someone to break the law to make the video?

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  41. No sales of any kind without a background check, that's what we need. It doesn't necessarily have to involve prohibitive expense, or for that matter, FFL guys. The whole thing could be revamped to accommodate the new regulations of universal background checks.

    If you resist this, you are guilty of assisting criminals.

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  42. IF you are "engaged in the firearms selling business" you ARE a dealer and NEED A FFL, regardless if you think so or not. You are NOT a private seller. people selling lots of guns at gun shows ARE DEALERS AND ARE SUBJECT TO FEDERAL LAW REQUIRING BACKGROUND CHECKS.

    THE PEOPLE YOU SHOW ARE BREAKING CURRENT FEDERAL LAW.

    I'm sorry for yelling but seriously, this is a very simple point that I don't think you've understood.

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  43. It sounds like there is agreement that if the private sellers shown in the videos are actually selling hundreds of guns a year and not required to abide by the same rules as FFLs, action should be taken. The Brady Law did not include such people because, at that time, the law talked about those occasional sellers at gun shows who were exempt from the background check system. I wonder what political pressure happened to make that exclusion? I'll try to track that one down.

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  44. What is usually ignored in these conversations is the crackdown on FFL issuance that began under Clinton and has continued under both Bush and Obama. BATF has been engaging in a concerted effort to reduce the number of FFL holders, and they've been very successful at that. The number has declined by 80%, since the 1990's.

    So, to get back to gun shows and "unlicensed dealers". Yes, there are folks who sell guns at gun shows with some regularity, but who do not hold FFLs. If you'll talk to them, you'll find that most of them used to hold FFLs, but no longer do.

    The BATF adopted a regulatory finding, without statutory support, that a dealer must have a storefront at a location that is zoned for gun sales. These semi-regular gun show sellers didn't qualify, so they had their licenses revoked or their renewals denied.

    If you want these guys to perform background checks and to keep the same records as licensed dealers, give them back their FFLs.

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  45. "No sales of any kind without a background check, that's what we need. It doesn't necessarily have to involve prohibitive expense, or for that matter, FFL guys"

    The flip side is that we simply cannot allow the government to know who owns what guns. Maintaining the privacy of gun ownership is essential to the survival of civilization.

    The thing is, it's pretty easy to create a system that allows for background checks, without constructing a registry. All you need is some form of certification to show that an individual has already passed a background check.

    In fact, Minnesota already has exactly that, in its purchase permit system:

    Minn. Stat. 624.7131
    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=624.7131#stat.624.7131

    And under Minnesota law, selling to a private party without checking for a purchase permit puts you at significant risk:

    Minn. Stat. 609.66, Subd. 1f
    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.66#stat.609.66.1f

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  46. What Sean can't know, nor can any of us, is what real effect the various federal gun laws have had on the rates of violent crime. The only way to find that out would be to repeal those laws - then see what happens.

    As far as separating the background check from the gun - that would be a strawbuyer's dream come true, now wouldn't it? Like it's not hard enough already to crack down on them.

    Of course criminals can't be expected to obey the law - hopefully the "law abiding" gun owners (non-FFLs at gun shows) would.

    Need to make room in your gunsafe? FFLs can help, with a little room for a profit. (No background check required, either)

    .45 Colt

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  47. I'm not sure I follow this comment or the reasoning.

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  48. I'm a little lost too, but jdege came up with a quotable quote if there ever were one.

    "Maintaining the privacy of gun ownership is essential to the survival of civilization."

    I'm still laughing.

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  49. We can rephrase it, if you like: "Ensuring that the government does not have a monopoly on force is essential to the preservation of a free society."

    If you're going to find a "common sense" compromise, you have to understand what the other side believes to be uncompromisable.

    You don't have to agree, but you do have to understand.

    Requiring licenses for carry is a compromise that most gun owners will accept, provided that the issuing standards are objective and fairly administered. Requiring licenses for ownership is not.

    Background checks are a compromise that most gun owners will accept, provided that it is not structured in a way that would allow the government the ability to construct a registry.

    If you dream of a system in which every gun can be traced through its lifetime, from owner to owner, the way a car can be through its VIN, you might as well give up on that, because it is never going to happen.

    And it's not going to happen because it would allow the government to know who owned which guns - and that's not just a policy with which a lot of gun owners disagree, it is a violation of a sacred trust to which they feel they have a sworn duty to uphold.

    Or, in the words of a radical gun nut:

    "Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them."

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  50. " If you dream of a system in which every gun can be traced through its lifetime, from owner to owner, the way a car can be through its VIN, you might as well give up on that, because it is never going to happen."

    It does happen already. I understand what you guys are about. That's why I'm blogging and that's why things need to change.

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  51. "It does happen already."

    Where.

    "I understand what you guys are about."

    I'm not telling you what I think, I'm telling what your political opposition thinks.

    "That's why I'm blogging and that's why things need to change."

    You're not going to accomplish change by staking out positions for which there is mild support on one side and absolute opposition on the other. Particularly when those on the opposition outnumber the supporters by an order of magnitude.

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  52. The polling data shows that you are wrong. The majority is with me.

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  53. If you're going to have any effect in this arena, you have to learn to read the polling data with a more sophisticated eye.

    Look for polls that measure intensity, for example. Of those who support stricter gun laws, how important do they rank it? Having 40% of the population answering "yes", but ranking at as their 11th most important issue, does not indicate anything like the same level of political support as having 20% of the population answering "no" and ranking it as their most important, or in many cases, their only issue.

    Similarly, when people tell pollsters they support stricter gun laws, what do they mean? Do they mean increased restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, or harsher penalties on criminal use of guns? The polls that ask these questions indicate that most of those who say they support stricter gun laws support the latter, not the former. Which means they agree with the NRA, not with the Brady Bunch.

    Why have previous attempts at mandating background checks failed? Because they seemed designed more to shut down the shows, than to actually deal with the purported problem.

    If you're going to accomplish anything, you're going to have to learn from past mistakes.

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  54. There are polls that show very specifically which gun laws the majority of responders would support. I will deal with that when I have time to respond.

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  55. To respond to the above comment about polls- here is one link showing varying results that don't support the statements above- http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm.. This is a compilation of various polls. You can see that support for "gun control" has erroded recently and, in my opinion, it is because nothing has been done to change anything and the gun lobby has won some skirmishes. When asked specific questions, however, such as in the Frank Luntz polling, most people agree with the measures I am in favor of: http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/luntz_poll_questionnaire_and_responses.pdf I understand that the NRA and the gun rights folks hate this poll for some reason. But the questions were asked of NRA members, non NRA members, gun owners and non gun owners. It is a representative sampling as a poll should be. 69% of NRA members favor background checks on sales of guns at gun shows and 85% of non NRA members supported this. The numbers of those who do not support this is quite small.
    And this from a Washington Post article: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/parsing-the-polls/parsing-the-polls-gun-control.html A quote from the article: " Given the fairly entrenched views about gun control and apparent disconnect between tragedy and public opinion, it seems unlikely that the shootings at Virginia Tech will have a lasting impact on the political debate over guns. While a solid majority of Americans believes that some gun control makes sense, they are generally opposed to banning guns entirely and would simply prefer to see the current laws enforced. The public also tends to blame cultural factors as much or more than the availability of firearms for tragedies like this one. And, the National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, closely monitoring and fighting any attempts to restrict gun rights. That vigilance has largely kept gun control legislation at bay over the past several years."

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  56. Have you looked at the website of Frank Lutz's company? It basically says that by careful wordsmithing, they can get the poll results you are looking for.

    If we were to ask 'should we close the gunshow loophole', I would guess that a majority would say yes. If we were to ask 'should the rules for licenced dealers selling at a gun show be different than when selling in their store' and 'should the rules for individuals other than licensed dealers be different at a gun shot than at other times' I think a majority of would say no to both questions. In fact, I think a majority of those who say we should close the gunshow loophole would say the rules should remain the same.

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  57. Take a look at the questions asked and see for yourself.

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  58. I was talking about Frank Lutz' company specifically. Can you point out where to find the questions he asked?

    Even if I can't spot the bias in his questions, doesn't mean the poll was conducted ethically or honestly--I repeat, his website says that he will get the answers you are looking for. That isn't a true public opinion poll, and if you are relying on that for data, you aren't really interested in honest reporting.

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  59. "Having 40% of the population answering "yes", but ranking at as their 11th most important issue, does not indicate anything like the same level of political support as having 20% of the population answering "no" and ranking it as their most important, or in many cases, their only issue."

    I agree, and can provide an example. I primarily choose candidates based on their position on guns. In fact, if they were perfect in every way but had a bad position on guns, I'd happily vote for their opponent. I have tens of thousands of dollars tied up in my gun hobby. So of COURSE that's how I'm going to vote. It's a hobby. Do you think ardent stamp collectors would vote for someone who wanted to outlaw stamp collecting and seize everyones' stamps?

    And I'm not alone, either. When I go to vote, I print out a list of candidates and their positions on guns (maintained by a state gun rights group). Other people do the same thing, and I even print them out for people I work with. And I'll be printing some out on Monday, and I and some of my friends will pull our votes right off of those sheets.

    I haven't seen that kind of dedication from our opposition. Gun owners have a vested interest in preserving their hobby, whereas our opposition has more of an ideological one, based on feelings and opinion and their idea of "common sense."

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  60. It should be in the link I provided above. Or Google it. Many polls are biased. I suppose the NRA, if it did polling, wouldn't be biased? This poll was done purposely by Mayors Against Illegal Guns by a Republican pollster and done purposely of NRA members and gun owners to show that even they, for the most part, agree with sensible measures to stop prohibited purchasers from obtaining guns. Sorry you don't like the results. These results are consistent with many polls however done over many years by different pollsters.

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  61. Well, for your information, I have voted for someone who does not match my position on guns because I look at other issues of importance to my community and my country. For example, I have a collection of refrigerator magnets, none of which I believe would kill anybody. But if a candidate wanted to ban refrigerator magnets, I would have to weigh whether that was more important than the economy, infrastructure, energy, the environment and health care.

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  62. "Gun owners have a vested interest in preserving their hobby, whereas our opposition has more of an ideological one, based on feelings and opinion and their idea of "common sense.""

    Protecting gun rights isn't about a hobby, it's about preserving the foundation of individual liberty.

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  63. "For example, I have a collection of refrigerator magnets, none of which I believe would kill anybody. But if a candidate wanted to ban refrigerator magnets, I would have to weigh whether that was more important than the economy, infrastructure, energy, the environment and health care."

    And if that collection of refrigerator magnets was worth $100,000 and you and nobody you know has every hurt anybody with a refrigerator magnet? And if there were criminals out there hurting people with refrigerator magnets, and those criminals repeatedly had their charges dropped or plea bargained down, or were constantly being released on parole when they were still dangerous? Would you still think giving up refrigerator magnets made sense, or would you try begging, pleading with lawmakers to do something about the criminals - and watching in frustration as they do nothing about the criminals and instead continue to come after you and your refrigerator magnets which never hurt anyone? That's where law abiding gun owners are. And if those refrigerator magnets ever do totally disappear, violent criminals will just use knives, baseball bats, their fists, and probably guns.

    "Protecting gun rights isn't about a hobby, it's about preserving the foundation of individual liberty."

    For me it's both. Not only is it ideological, but I have a huge financial interest as well. But the point that I was trying to make to our generous host is that there are more than mere ideological differences. People with an interest in guns often spend ridiculous amounts of money on them, and as such have a vested interest in ensuring that their huge financial interest isn't outlawed, banned, seized, etc. The US gun industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. So every year, Americans are billions of dollars more vested in making sure their guns aren't outlawed.

    I don't even want to guess how much the so-called "assault weapons" in private hands are worth. Tens of billions? So when the opposition talks about banning so-called "assault weapons," they're fighting against people with billions of dollars at stake, collectively. And that's part of why we're so steadfast in our convictions.

    But yes, I also believe that we wouldn't have the freedom we're still holding on to if the only people with guns were the police, the military, and the criminals.

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  64. Interesting thoughts. The difference between refrigerator magnets and guns is that we all know that guns do kill and injure people and require regulations to make sure they don't and aren't in the wrong hands. Yes, I can see how people with a lot of money into their guns would not like to have anything happen to them. I hope they are all locked up safely so they are not stolen, as so often happens and that they are insured. My magnets have an emotional importance to me because they represent travels with my family in various parts of the world. But they are not worth a lot of money and if they are stolen, I wouldn't lose much but some memories.

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  65. Even poor people with guns have a financial stake, because even cheap guns are expensive. A basic AR-15 (a so called "assault weapon") is in the $1000 dollar range, so if you own one and it's all you could afford, then you're going to vote against the guy who wants to take it away. This conviction is compounded even more when legislators have zero interest in keeping criminals (you know, the guys you don't want getting our guns) locked up until they are no longer a danger to society.

    Creating new, restrictive, yet ineffective laws is ridiculously cheap. Enforcing current laws is ridiculously expensive, because prison costs money. But new laws don't work, while people in prison aren't victimizing law-abiding people. Very few violent criminals start out that way. They work their way up the food chain, after being taught by the system that the risk/reward ratio is acceptable. If, instead, they learned that maybe robbing someone at gunpoint isn't worth 10 years of their life, they wouldn't do it. Now, they practically have to spit on the judge AND the jury to serve even 3 years for it. And often, they serve less. Can't have overcrowded prisons, now, can we? We need to make room for all those mandatory-sentenced drug offenders.

    And the saddest thing is, law abiding gun owners would be your strongest ally if you actually wanted to fight crime. But you're so fixated on targeting inanimate objects (granted, some of them are scary looking inanimate objects) that instead you've gained an adversary who will out-vote and out-spend you every step of the way. Where's the common sense in that?

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  66. " And the saddest thing is, law abiding gun owners would be your strongest ally if you actually wanted to fight crime"
    Apparently you guys don't want to keep guns away from criminals. If that's not stopping crime, I don't know what is. It is prevention before a shooting occurs to save lives. That's the difference. We want to save lives- you want to penalize after the life has been taken. We are in favor of both- you are in favor of one. Where's the common sense in not wanting to save lives?

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  67. "Apparently you guys don't want to keep guns away from criminals."

    No, we don't want to keep guns away from law-abiding people. If you don't actually want to keep guns away from law-abiding people, you're doing a very poor job conveying that message. The comments here should make that clear enough.

    "Where's the common sense in not wanting to save lives?"

    Where's the common sense in disarming victims? Guns save lives every day. In fact, they save more lives every day in the US than they take. I have no problem keeping guns away from criminals, but don't criminals don't follow the law, so laws will have little effect. Enforcement, and incarceration would have plenty of effect, but it bypasses your agenda of removing guns instead of criminals.

    The Bradys can't compete financially with gun owners. You're outgunned (see what I did there?). In fact, the Bradys are the biggest campaigner for the NRA. I'm just guessing, but I'll bet that each Brady campaign sends more dollars to the NRA than it does to your own group.

    If you wanted to make an actual impact on crime, and even undermine NRA's relevance long-term (since I'm no friend of the NRA either), you could target elected judges who have a history of releasing recidivist violent offenders (you'd have a huge pool of judges to choose from, too). How much money do judges spend campaigning? Some outside money could *easily* sway their elections, and by choosing a few high-profile judges in major cities, you'd send a message that the Bradys aren't messing around anymore. It might even put other judges on alert, and enact real change. Oh, and criminals in prison don't often commit gun crimes.

    Long term, if the focus was directed at judges, or even if only a small part of the focus was directed at judges, and you showed actual results, people would take notice. The Bradys wouldn't be an "anti-gun" group, which is how they're perceived, but an anti-criminal group with a history of getting things done. Even some of the trap shooting NRA members might be inclined to send you money. But if your focus is strictly on taking away their guns, that won't happen.

    You keep preaching your ideology, and have no track record of reducing crime. If you want to be taken seriously in the main stream, then building a track record of reducing crime should be a priority. Instead, you focus on eliminating guns, and even people who are anti-gun can't see what you've done about crime. The promise of "one more gun law before we see the effects" rings hollow.

    I'm throwing common sense at you, and it seems like you're just not interested in anything that doesn't strictly involve demonizing guns.

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  68. I disagree with most of what you said ( above) and most particularly, we are not about taking away your guns even if that is what you have been led to believe.

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  69. Apparently you guys don't want to keep guns away from criminals.

    Unless we repeal the second amendment, permissible restrictions on legal ownership can change the easiest method of acquisition by criminals, and can make it less likely that their victims will be armed. Constitutionally-allowed restrictions on the law abiding cannot significantly reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals.

    It is possible that a restriction on sales at gun shows could be constitutional, but it won't make a significant difference in criminal availability--it would be like expecting either the elimination of all those car dealers with the auto industry bailout, or elimination of the Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Plymouth brands to result in fewer car accidents.

    we are not about taking away your guns even if that is what you have been led to believe"

    As far as I can tell, the Brady Campaign has called for restrictions on every gun I own, many of them for multiple reasons. My revolver? Too small, counts as a Saturday Night Special. My 9mm? Too much ammo, counts as an assault weapon. My .22? Semiautomatic. My 1950's military surplus pistol? 'Cop-killer' ammo. My usual carry gun? Misses 'Saturday Night Special' status by 1/4 inch, 2 dimples and a couple of grooves, plus it came with 'assault weapon' magazines.

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