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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The slippery slope

I guess I'm not the only one to see the slippery slope leading to guns everywhere and carried by anyone. This columnist from the Roanoke Times hit on the same general theme I have been writing about. The ubiquitous camel has its' nose under the tent of common sense and is managing to win some skirmishes regarding guns and gun laws. But I am not convinced that that camel won't have to back out and go find another tent for a while. The commenters on my blog posts are utterly convinced that their view is really the only one that makes sense. They have spent a lot of time trying to convince me that I am crazy and don't know what I'm talking about. Their bluster, their bullying, their accusations, their rudeness, their bombastic remarks and their general "in your face" comments are why common sense gun legislation is stalled in the houses of Congress. Our elected leaders are afraid of this stuff. If they get even half of what I receive on a daily basis, no wonder they run away from common sense. Who wants to deal with this stuff? And it gives the impression that these people represent rational thought and majority opinion. Indeed they do not.

Over and over again, polling data show that a majority of Americans want measures to stop senseless shootings. The public does not want felons to have guns, or those who are dangerously mentally ill, or domestic abusers. I know that anyone can purchase pretty much any kind of gun without a background check from private, unlicensed sellers at gun shows and other venues. If anyone can buy guns because laws do not prevent them from doing so, then most likely anyone will buy guns. Over and over and over again, this argument has been made by me and not believed by many of my readers. There are a number of hidden camera videos that show how easy it is to buy any type of gun from private sellers at gun shows. Now several commenters here have argued that the folks in these videos buying guns are not felons. That is missing the point. How does the seller have any idea that these ordinary folks are not felons, domestic abusers, terrorists or those who are dangerously mentally ill? The answer is, the seller doesn't know. But they don't mind making the sales. Just follow the money.

Here are links to various videos and reports showing hidden cameras at gun shows all over the country where unlicensed sellers are allowed to sell at gun shows without background checks. First, the University of California Davis Health System provided this report about what they saw at gun shows. This one shows photos of the guns available at the gun shows. Note that the researchers here attended 78 gun shows in 19 states. The report is a comprehensive indicator of what is going on across the country. Here is the Brady Campaign video of Colin Goddard, Virginia Tech shooting victim, going to gun shows across the country, including in Minnesota, to show how easily he could buy guns without background checks. This one is from the City of New York, showing the same thing the other videos have shown.

And then ABC's 20/20 program ran this video of Omar Samaha, brother of Virginia Tech shooting victim, Seema, who died in that tragic shooting. Omar went to a Richmond, Virginia gun show with the ABC camera crew in the parking lot outside of the gun show. Omar went in and out of the gun show and bought ten guns which he brought back to his car trunk. Some of the "gun guys" I know have said that criminals don't get their guns at gun shows. They buy them out of car trunks. In this video, Omar could have sold a gun to someone right out of his car trunk in the parking lot had he had the right gun. How did anyone in that gun show know that Omar was not a terrorist, a felon or a domestic abuser? They didn't- and yet he bought ten guns that day, including the same type of pistol used to kill his own sister. All were bought without a background check and several with no I.D.

These sorts of gun sales are happening often. There are thousands of gun shows every year in our country. There are criminals and others who know how easy it is to walk into gun shows and without even showing simple I.D. in some cases, walk out with an M 16 look-alike or an assault weapon. Assault weapons , I have been told, are used for recreational purposes and hunting. Mind you, they are not necessary for such activities since there are plenty of other guns available for these purposes. In my opinion, these type of guns are scarier- yes scarier- than regular hunting guns that my family used when I was growing up. That may be why these are weapons of choice for many of the gangs and criminals using them to kill each other or police officers on our streets. ( I have addressed this in other posts). I know nobody with an assault type weapon. Oh, except for my friend who tried out the system in Minnesota and bought one at a gun show from a private seller, no questions asked. And if there is nothing for my gun guy friends to be afraid of or are hiding, why would we they oppose trying to  keep these guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them? It's just common sense.


  1. You keep referring to "assault weapons" - since that's a made-up term with no legal meaning, how would you define an assault weapon? What, specifically, makes a gun an assault weapon in your eyes?

  2. Here is an article that supports what I am saying: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/07/30/brazen_assault_weapon_shoot_out_in_dorchester_chills_police/- here is a quote from the article: " Police say they are noticing more of the fearsome firearms on Boston streets than last year and, in particular, are concerned that there have been so many in the past three weeks. Tomorrow afternoon, Mayor Thomas M. Menino will meet with ministers in Roxbury to discuss crime in the city and the sudden proliferation of the rifles. “This [weapon] can lay down a lot of fire in an urban area where there is basically no cover from it,’’ Commissioner Edward F. Davis said yesterday. “You can conceal yourself from these weapons, but they’ll rip through a car. They’ll rip through a telephone pole. They can rip through just about anything in an urban environment.’’"

    And from the legal community against gun violence: http://www.lcav.org/content/assault_weapons.pdf

    I posted some comments recently as well about this from a Police Chief. I am not the only one who knows that there is an increase of these kind of weapons on the streets and used in crimes.

  3. I'm curious--if assault weapon is a "made up term", why did it cause so many problems in the discussion of the Swiss Military and its storage of weapons?

    I'd add this as well:

  4. This gun owner doesn't own any "assault weapons" either, but I've never really understood what the big argument for banning them is. Is it just aesthetics?

    These guns fire the same bullet with the same lethality and at the same rate and at about the same accuracy as hunting rifles. But they're more scary looking (which maybe makes them more attractive to criminals), so they should be banned?

    Is that a fair characterization of the position on assault weapons?

  5. Since I live in MA..

    First AK47 is an automatic (machine gun) and is different from semiautomatic. The Soviet and client states have made a mere 90 Million of them. The report in Boston.com is also written by someone that knows nothing and reported even less factually. The AK47 used is not legal in MA as MA has the AWB in effect.

    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.

    So we have a criminal, with an illegal gun, criminally obtained in a tightly controlled state (FID required to own or purchase and LTC required for some types and to have handguns).


  6. "Assault weapons , I have been told, are used for recreational purposes and hunting."

    Japete, as a police officer, I have no illusion that an "assault weapon" (by anyone's definition, so I'll let the term stand) is for hunting or sport, even though they can be used for both (and I have done so). I know what they were initially designed for: Shooting human beings.

    And I'm fine with that.

    I'm not fine with criminals shooting human beings. Sometimes it happens, though, that decent persons need to shoot criminals.

    I am a patrolman with over a decade in the field. I have a degree in this stuff, and I have actually given this stuff some thought. I will absolutely do my best to help you and protect you against any threat. But I can't be there all the time.

  7. "Assault weapon" is a made-up term which means different things to the people using it. "Assault rifle" is a term with a specific legal meaning, and although the two seem similar, they are not.

    This is why states that have so-called "assault weapon" bans all ban different guns. They make it up as they go along.

    The term "assault weapon" is used to describe a gun with certain COSMETIC characteristics, as was made clear in this very blog post:

    "In my opinion, these type of guns are scarier- yes scarier- than regular hunting guns that my family used when I was growing up."

    If banning guns because they LOOK scary is "common sense," then color me uncommon. You're not entitled to have inanimate objects that scare you taken from people they don't scare.

  8. Assault rifle is fall out from military circles for light in weight, short over all length, full automatic/select fire rifle. Specific examples are AK47 (Kalashnikov, not imitations), M16, M4 and a number of others. Generally full automatic capability is not for hunting and generally restricted due to 1934 firearms act and later laws.

    It is possible to have a hunting/target rifle even a .22 caliber sized one (light for anything other than small varmints) configured to look like "assault rifle" but the difference is it is not capable of full automatic fire (machine gun). In some states (MA) just putting a folding shoulder stock is illegal!

    Many states also mandate that hunting rifles cannot be undersized (cannot use a .22 Rimfire for deer in PA) and also if it can be semi-auto
    or not and that includes including shotguns. There is a lot of law and rules out there to conform to even for basic hunting.

    There are far more controls than the uninitiated are aware of.


  9. Take a look at the definition and history of both words
    Assault Weapon

    Assault Rifle

  10. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf

    "In 1997 among State inmates possessing a gun, fewer than 2% bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show, about 12% from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80% from family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source."

    Seems as though gun shows are not the problem. But that information is a little out of date, right? What about more recent stuff?


    "At the most recent meeting of the American Society of Criminology [around 2000], a study of youthful offenders in Michigan found that only 3 percent of the youths in the study had acquired their last handgun from a gun show."

    And then, in 2006...


    "In contrast to media myth, none of the firearms in the study was obtained from gun shows."

    Once again, the facts run contrary to the hysterical propaganda peddled by Japete and her friends.

  11. I don't get the big deal about the definitions here. Which one do you guys like again? Does using one term just make you so mad that you have to correct me everytime I use the terms. It sure is nice to have someone nit picking every single word I use on my own blog. I am not going on to your blogs to do the same. Does anyone do that to you? It's just plain childish and annoying. But thanks for offering the two definitions.

  12. I'm aware of that report. Criminals often don't know exactly where their guns came from. They don't fall out of the sky. They all start out as legal sales. So someone could be buying legally at a gun show and then supply the criminals on the street. This is not a conclusive study.

  13. Here is a good example go to 2:40 and see if you can spot the problem with the reporting.


  14. What's your problem with the reporting?

  15. Assault rifles CAN NOT be purchased "over the counter" They also cost big $$ and require paperwork. The term Assault weapon and Assault Rifle are not interchangeable.

  16. Just as an FYI, the only fully transferable 50 caliber machine gun I found online was for sale at over $40,000.


    of course you have to get fingerprinted, Sheriff permission, and a 3 month wait for the ATF to approve the purchase.

    the price the government pays for them seems to be about $12,000


    My guess is they just buy them and guns like them on the open arms market.

  17. It is the .50 caliber sniper rifles that are sold at gun shows and not machine guns. Here are other places where they are available: http://www.impactguns.com/store/50bmg.html and http://world.guns.ru/sniper/sn53-e.htm for just a few. Also this: http://www.vpc.org/snipercrime.htm- cases of people arrested with aresenals of weapons, including .50 caliber sniper rifles. And then this interesting video- just for fun!! : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7KOikEY-H8

  18. "It is the .50 caliber sniper rifles that are sold at gun shows and not machine guns."

    yes, that's what we said. Machine guns are not "available over the counter."

    here's a nice photo of some Mexican Special Forces soldiers with .50 Caliber sniper rifles. Any guesses how many of these rifles ended up in Cartel hands when the soldiers carrying them deserted?


    here's a lovely PDF put out by the US Army on Cartel recruitment


    Maybe we should just legalize the drugs and let the drug company multinationals import and process them instead of letting these psychopaths do it.

  19. Also while we are on the subject of words and their meanings why do you call those 50 caliber rifles "sniper rifles" ?

  20. I'm not exactly sure what your point is here, Sean.

  21. They are commonly called that in the ads where they are for sale and in many articles about them. What do you want them to be called? They can shoot from far away so can be used by snipers. What is their use otherwise?

  22. "I'm not exactly sure what your point is here, Sean."

    My point is, these weapons, whichever they are and whatever you wish to call them, are not coming from gun shows. They are coming from the Mexican military and from the international arms market.

  23. The adjustable stock on our hunting shotgun looks scary (and is defined as an assault weapon feature, under most such definitions). We like it because it allows my wife -- who is smaller in stature than I am -- to use the shotgun too when she goes bird hunting. Without this convenient feature, we'd have to own two guns or swap the stock out for a youth model.

    I see no reason why it should be banned. The only potentially nefarious practical application of an adjustable stock is that it allows the weapon to be used when wearing thick body armor plates (which is one reason SWAT teams and the military like them). There aren't a lot of criminals running around with hard sided body armor.

    Making public policy on the basis of emotions -- not reason -- seems like it is not common sense. If I am scared of red cars because I fear that they are more likely to be involved in reckless driving, speeding, and DUIs is that a sound reason to ban red autos? After all, nobody NEEDS a red car, right?

    On the original issue of your post, the real problem that you seem to have isn't with gun shows. It is with private sales, regardless of where they occur. The only way to stop private sales would be with a comprehensive registration scheme similar to the Canadian registry. So, do you object to calling it the "private sale and universal registration loophole" instead of the "gun show loophole?"

    Chris from AK

  24. So where do they get the grenades and the RPG that are shown in the bust pictures? I guarantee that they are not from the gun show loophole.

  25. Interesting article on the subject of Mexican guns

    "According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) only 17 percent of the guns recovered by Mexican authorities are traceable to the United States a far cry from the 90 percent perpetuated by the MSM. It is worth pointing out that the Mexican government does a good job photographing the drugs, money and weapons it seizes and releases them to the public."

    I wonder if some of the US made guns come from here

    "Halcon continues to add that “the U.S. government has supplied billions of dollars in firearms, ammunition, training, etc to the Mexico. The real issue facing Americans is that between 120 and 150 of the Mexican military troops defect to the dark side every month. When they leave they are taking their equipment, guns and training with them."

  26. It is the gun show loophole bill that I am working to get passed. It is interesting that you use the term assault weapon and weapon. Some of my "friends" here are objecting to that term. By the way, I do have a problem with private sales without background checks but understand the problems with that one. It is too complicated and would not receive needed support though some would like to see it happen.

  27. The "bust" pictures? Hand grenades and RPGs are sold at gun shows all over the country. They could be sold by private sellers who may or may not require background checks.

  28. I have blogged about this before with credilbe sources that indicate that a large percentage of crime guns traced in Mexican gun cartel cases come from the U.S. One such example was right in my own state when a Mexican American citizen was trafficking guns purchased at Minnesota gun dealers and driving them into Mexico for sale to the cartel. There are many accounts of guns purchased at gun dealers and gun shows along the Mexican border as well as in other states much further away.

  29. You wrote:
    It is interesting that you use the term assault weapon and weapon.

    I personally think that an assault weapon is best defined as, "an automatic rifle firing an intermediate cartridge optimized for engagements from 100 to 300 yards."

    However, assault weapon bans usually identify an adjustable stock as objectionable for some reason (probably because of the aesthetics). I suppose I should have been more precise and said, "and is defined as an assault weapon feature, under most such legal definitions in 'assault weapon bans.'"

    The shotgun stock in question also has a pistol grip (shocking -- another naughty feature). I just genuinely don't understand how a feature that makes a firearm easier for a smaller woman to use is objectionable.

    Chris from AK

  30. I love how the gunnies are trying to get you lost in the "exact definitions", Japete. Didn't you blog on that recently? i.e. What, EXACTLY, is an "assault weapon"? What, EXACTLY, is the calibur or rate of fire? Give examples (again!) of whether grenades are REALLY sold at gun shows. yadayadayada. Never mind that so many deaths are traced to gun show sales, including those in Mexico, they'll be content defraying the topic away from the real issue. Why do you post their nonsense?

    And to you gun-lover types: How about doing something to reduce deaths for a change instead of cleaning your weapons and blowing hot air about your rights? Save some lives instead of planning to take them.

  31. Anonymous said, "Once again, the facts run contrary to the hysterical propaganda peddled by Japete and her friends."

    One of those facts being that an incredibly tiny percantage of criminals get thier guns from gun shows. This "fact" comes from surveys in which they asked the criminals themselves.

    Can you imagine what the pro-gun guys would say if we offered "facts" like that?

  32. I'm sure the ATF would love to know that NFA controlled items such and grenades and RPG's are being sold willy nilly at gun shows, you should let them know!

  33. We aren't trying to get you lost in exact definitions but if you are going to discuss something, correct terms should be used. Battle rifles are a specific thing, typically of the .30 caliber variety. Assault rifles are an exact thing, like engagement rifles like the M16 and Ak47. Assault rifles are automatic weapons not sold to the general public without a $200 tax stamp from the ATF. In almost every story ever told, if a rifle was used, it was a semi-automatic rifle that LOOKS like the automatic version that the military uses. My AR15 is not an assault rifle because it is not automatic or select fire (same thing). It is a semi-automatic that fires just like a pistol. Each pull of the trigger fires a round. Using words like "assault weapons" brings a prejudical image to the general population that doesn't understand the differences, which is why us "gunnies" think you guys use the term.

    Mikeb - As I already pointed out in a previous rebuttle to Japete, the claim that most weapons come from gun shows is disputed by the ATF and the DoJ. Facts that I provided a link. Do a small percentage get them from gun shows? Sure, in the same manner that some get them from kmart parking lots. Sale by private individual. Just like focusing on the tool instead of the act, now you focus on the location.

    And yes.. The ATF would LOVE to hear that gun shows are selling grenades and RPGs. You guys are just over the board with this assertion. Have you been to a gun show or did you see one on a table in a video? Was it a real one or a replica?

    I guess my biggest beef about this entire blog and it's commenters is that the majority are using fear words and emotion to talk about the issue instead of pointing out non-biased research and reports.

  34. Re: hand grenade sales at gun shows- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-rosenthal/requiring-background-chec_b_55907.html. From the article: " n Michigan, Ali Boumelhem, a member of Hezbollah, was convicted in September of conspiring to smuggle guns and ammunition to Lebanon. Federal agents testified that they saw him buying weapons at three gun shows. In Florida, Conor Claxton, accused of being linked to the IRA, testified last year that he and others had bought hand grenades and high-powered ammunition at gun shows to smuggle to Northern Ireland. In Texas, Muhammad Asrar, a Pakistani who pleaded guilty to immigration violations and illegal possession of ammunition, told authorities that he had been purchasing handguns, rifles and submachine guns at gun shows for seven years.*"

    Also this article: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/tons-of-arms-flowing-into-mexico-but-from-where.htm. From the article: "Drug trafficker’s taste for high-power weaponry is evidenced by a joint ATF, FBI and Tucson Police Department investigation in April 2006. That effort led to the arrest of three members of the aforementioned Arellano Felix Organization for attempting to purchase machineguns and hand grenades from undercover agents. "

    It looks like some hand grenades are for sale on-line: http://www.shopping.com/hand%20grenades/products~NS-1~linkin_id-8013490~cid-59079801511

    I found several sites for these. Also this quote: " Vaughn spoke of his experience with thousands of gang investigations and how they had led to the recovery of such materiel as: explosives, heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, automatic rifles, grenades, plastic explosives, and land mines. He reported that often these weapons and parts were: traded for narcotics which were then sold on the street; sold by criminals specializing in military hardware; or, sold to gang members for use in crimes or against rival gangs or police. Vaughn confirmed that many of these weapons and parts are available at gun shows:"- from this article: http://www.vpc.org/studies/tupsix.htm

  35. Patrick- " the claim that most weapons come from gun shows" I have not said that. I have said that some crime guns come from gun shows and that a good number of sellers, depending on the show and the state, are private sellers. In one study, one of the few to be done by the ATF since their efforts have been hampered by the gun lobby, it was estimated that 30% of the crime guns traced came from gun shows. Since some of these dealers are private sellers, one can assume that some of the guns were sold by private sellers without requiring background checks. Some of these guns then ended up being used in crime. If we can stop some of this, why wouldn't we?

  36. more about hand grenades: http://yarchive.net/gun/politics/hand_grenade_bank_rob.html
    and: http://lasvegas.backpage.com/SportsEquipForSale/1000-us-military-m67-hand-grenades-for-sale/3323637
    I guess this one is for a "practical joke": http://mp-pistol.com/boards/lofiversion/index.php?t20494.html

    and this one: http://badphoenixcops.blogspot.com/2009/11/for-sale-60-hand-grenades-200-each-will.html

  37. Because no one has ever lied on the internet.

    And anyone can buy inert grenades. They're not exactly dangerous unless you get hit in the head with one.

  38. Thanks for all of your comments about grenades, most of which are not published here. I am aware that the grenades sold on-line or sometimes at gun shows, which they have been, are the casings without the explosives needed to make them a dangerous weapon. "he grenade casings or shells when they are configured into an inert format are not illegal to possess or to be sold. They become an illegal dangerous weapon when they are reconfigured to make them active or when a suspect purports as a form of intimidation that the device will explode or purports for sell that the device can explode or fragment." from: http://www.azdps.gov/Media/News/View/?p=135. So the problem with having these type of "grenades" available is that they could be made into devices that can explode and cause serious damage. One wonders why the casings are even for sale anywhere.

  39. japete --

    An inert grenade casing is no more or less capable of being made into an explosive device than a $1 length of copper or aluminum pipe purchased from your local hardware store.

  40. When I was a in high school, I knew kids that made pipe bombs using pipe fittings from the hardware store. One wonders why pipe fittings are even for sale anywhere.

  41. I live in Cambridge, MA. My good friend's 'long rifle' used to be an 'assault rifle' before switching out the 6-point stock and replacing the 'flash hider' with a 'compensator.'

    Still fires the same 5.56... the AWB doesn't really do anything.

  42. Criminals often don't know exactly where their guns came from. They don't fall out of the sky. They all start out as legal sales

    And how do you stop legal guns from being sold illegally?

    That is the $64K question.

    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.

    Will that stop it? Nope, won't do it.
    The registered firearm can still be sold and since most firearms aren't dropped at the scene for the police to recover, the odds are good that that crime will go undetected or the person will claim it was stolen.

    That leads to inventory checks.

    Allowing law enforcement to periodically check to see if you have all the firearms you've bought or documentation of proper sales.
    Surely no body could object to having the police show up unannounced, checking your private property and documents, eh?

    Even then, there aren't enough law enforcement officers in the country so that won't solve the problem, will it?
    Nope, Let's see there are approximately 44 million gun owners (1994 estimate, probably low).
    Even if law enforcement didn't take a day off-- they would have to check over, 120,500 households a day,every day of the year.

    and that doesn't count the fact that criminals can not be required to register their firearms.

    So, what will solve the problem Joan?

  43. Dear Anon- above,

    I have discussed the answers to your questions many times on my blog so will not do so again. I disagree with your premises, however, in the questions you ask.

  44. If I assume, for the sake of argument, that Mexican cartel members are buying full-auto weapons from Americans and smuggling them back into Mexico, where exactly are the Americans in question getting these full-auto weapons?

    Full-auto weapons are quite uncommon and difficult to get a hold of here in the U.S. Plus, the laws for transport, transfer, etc. are strict, and my understanding is that law enforcement generally keeps a pretty keen eye on them, to boot.

    Why in the world would a Mexican cartel guy go to the trouble of coming to the U.S. and buying crappy semi-auto stuff when he can much more easily get them from other countries, or from crooked officials in the Mexican military? If they're getting full-auto stuff from our (amazingly law-abiding) class III holders here in the U.S., why haven't we seen these privately-held guns disappearing? It's not like there are a lot of them around in the first place. If legal machineguns were getting smuggled into Mexico, the ATF would know about it. And I'll bet they'd have something to say.

    Moreover, you realize that many of the guns taken from the Mexican military are American... either sold to or given to the Mexican military... those would be "traceable" to the U.S. but clearly not a symptom of the problem you seem so keen on imagining exists. Without any information on the numbers of "traceable" guns that have a history that includes ownership by the Mexican military, how can you pretend to make reasonable policy recommendations?

  45. Criminals in prison can't buy guns. Instead of spinning your wheels on the gun thing, why not work together to keep criminals in prison where they belong?

  46. Oh, but there are guns traceable and traced to the U.S. Perhaps you didn't read my earlier posts about this.

  47. Surely you understand the law that says that any felon, once out of jail or prison, is on the prohibited purchaser list of the NICS meaning they can't legally purchase from a FFL. But they can and do sometimes purchase, without a background check, from unlicensed sellers at gun shows and other venues.

  48. But they can and do sometimes purchase, without a background check, from unlicensed sellers at gun shows and other venues.

    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?

  49. Somewhere here, you have missed a major point. It is LEGAL for these people to buy guns without background checks from unlicensed sellers because we have not made it illegal. That's the problem and that is what I propose to change.

  50. 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.

  51. It should be illegal. That is why we need to require background checks on all guns sales to make sure we are making it illegal. Otherwise, felons, dangerously mentally ill people, domestic abusers and even terrorists can continue to buy guns from unlicensed sellers. What is so hard to understand about this?

  52. Japete - 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.

  53. Lets play make believe: 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.

  54. Patrick- when we allow just anyone to purchase weapons at gun shows ( and other places as well) without background checks, then it is legal because it is not illegal. It is perfectly legal for private sellers to sell their guns to people without background checks. Did you look at the hidden camera videos? It is clear that these sellers know how easy it is for someone to buy from them with no hassles. How does that seller know who the buyer is? They have no idea. But they don't seem to care ( some of them anyway). Sure, it's illegal for an ex-felon to buy a gun. But if they know they can buy from a private seller with no background check, why not try? Since every transaction at a gun show cannot be watched and monitored, requiring background checks would make all gun sales consistent with not concern that a seller is selling to someone who shouldn't have a gun and that a buyer is not a prohibited purchaser. I don't know how many times I have to say this. This will be the last on this post. You know what I'm talking about but you are being purposely obtuse. Either that or you just can't understand what I am talking about here.

  55. Thanks, Red. You have just explained how gun shows contribute to illegal gun trafficking in "the hoods" of our cities.

  56. 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.

  57. You may not have seen what is in the Bloomberg and other videos, but it is happening. That is why we have a problem and that is why I am working to change it. Not all states are the same regarding background checks, making it easy to go to another state where laws are looser and bring guns into states where the laws are tighter. The unlicensed dealers are not criminals. They don't know who they are selling to. They are not arrested for it because it is LEGAL to do this because it is not ILLEGAL. That doesn't make it right. The ATF can't arrest an unlicensed seller unless they can find proof that the person who bought the gun is a prohibitied purchaser. That would require a heck of a lot more ATF agents than we now have. Passing a background check law to require these background checks would make everything consistent and the unlicensed sellers would do the same thing the licensed sellers now do.

  58. It is LEGAL for these people to buy guns without background checks from unlicensed sellers because we have not made it illegal.

    We HAVE made it illegal. You can repeat this claim 1000 times and you will still be wrong.

  59. making it easy to go to another state where laws are looser and bring guns into states where the laws are tighter.

    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.

  60. I am not wrong. If they don't know they are selling to someone who shouldn't have a gun, is it their fault? If no background check is required by law, then it is not illegal. If they knowingly sell to a felon, then yes, But how would they know without a background check. I could also make my claim 1000 times and I think I must have by now!!

  61. You saw in the videos that some dealers did not even ask for I.D. And maybe things are different in the state where you live. You have maybe forgotten that not all states have the same laws.

  62. Apparently you missed the part where I mentioned it is a FEDERAL FELONY.

    This means it's illegal in ALL STATES.

  63. You wrote:
    "The unlicensed dealers are not criminals. They don't know who they are selling to."

    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.

    ATF is aware of that and I've read of sting operations where they'll sell a gun to someone that appears to be a dealer for, say, $500 then send another agent to buy for $600, thus generating a profit. Likewise, if the unlicensed seller claims any business tax deductions or the like then they're liable to be busted for being in business; if they don't claim the tax deductions, then they're probably evading taxes by simply not reporting the transactions -- and we all know that the IRS doesn't mess around with that, especially if there is any volume involved!

    Chris from AK

  64. "Thanks, Red. You have just explained how gun shows contribute to illegal gun trafficking in "the hoods" of our cities."

    I'm sorry, but you seem to have completely missed my point. You could replace "gun show" with "gun store" or "pawn shop" and the effect is the same. Even if you were to ban ALL FIREARMS and make selling ANY FIREARM to ANYBODY illegal under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, criminals would still buy guns because CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY THE LAW.

    Even if you could magically remove 100% of the firearms in the US, criminals would smuggle guns in and sell them, because CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY THE LAW.

    Please respond to the following: Selling firearms to a felon IS ALREADY ILLEGAL. Some people do it anyway, because they are criminals and do not obey the law. Will more laws stop criminals from breaking the laws they are already breaking?

  65. You keep missing the part about unlicensed sellers not having to do background checks which means they CAN sell to someone who is a felon, domestic abuser, adjudicated mentally ill or even a terrorist, unknowingly.

  66. But now, many years after the Brady Law was enacted, those "collectors" at gun shows have become pretty lucrative sellers. If you watched the videos, some of them sell hundreds of guns every year and are doing very well. They are not just collectors getting rid of some of their collections. They are in the business of selling guns to make money.

  67. " Selling firearms to a felon IS ALREADY ILLEGAL. Some people do it anyway, because they are criminals and do not obey the law. Will more laws stop criminals from breaking the laws they are already breaking? " Selling firearms to a felon can be accomplished by not requiring background checks and not knowing you are selling to a felon. A law requiring background checks on all gun sales would stop some of the felons and other prohibited purchasers from getting their guns at gun shows. They know they are breaking the law because it is easy to buy from unlicensed sellers- no background check. If they know they will be required to undergo a background check, they won't buy their guns from that private seller because they would be stopped.

  68. 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.

    Private individuals who do not sell guns as a business don't even have access to the NICS service. Opening that database to public use (as opposed to a part of the current FFL transfer process) invites all sorts of abuse. Imagine if I could enter the names of people I know to fish for dirt on them?

    You could go so far as to ban all non-FFL gun transfers, and make private sales go through a FFL. Toss in a fingerprinting to boot. Then you'd have California, which has extremely restrictive gun laws but no shortage of gun and other violent crimes.

  69. In Ohio, we can sell a firearm to another private buyer without a background check. I see people at our local gun show walking around with firearms to sell, so Japete is right that it does happen as easily as it could at someone's apartment. This is why I continue to ask people to stop calling it the gunshow loophole because it makes people focus on the "gun show" part. Those who know that it can happen at any location get hooked on that point and then it becomes semantics. (Remember what I said in another comment about using correct terms?)

    Question 1: 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 have to agree with Chris though that there is a threshold to what you can sell privately and if you know of someone who is "in the business" of being an "unlicensed dealer" and you aren't turning them in for prosecution, Japete, you are contributing to the problem.

    Question 2: Why hasn't there been any arrests from the Bloomberg video's?

    Question 3: Were they turned in for prosecution or simply to be used as media fodder?

    Also, I think part of the problem is that you keep focusing on the seller side of it, which is hanging up a few people here. It is illegal for the buyer if they are prohibited or the seller if they know. You seem to dismiss that it is a Federal felony for a prohibited person to buy/own/possess a firearm.

    Question 4: Will you, for the purposes of continued discussion, at least agree that it is illegal for a prohibited buyer from purchasing privately as well as through a dealer?

    Also, Red had a pretty good point that background checks are not worthwhile because someone could perform an illegal strawman purchase using another's clean record. Strawman purchases would simply go up.

    Now let's say you get your wish and background checks become mandatory for all purchases.

    Question 5 (2 parts): A. How do you intend to enforce background checks? B. For instance, how would anyone know that I sold 3 private handguns today without getting a background check done?

    Please don't answer with "whatever" or "I've answered that before" because I've not seen these questions answered by you.

  70. Red, that is not how the background check system would work at gun shows. One or two dealers would be used to perform the checks for the unlicensed sellers. This has been worked out in the states that have the system.

  71. Great questions, Patrick. I will try to answer them. 1. I could agree to that term and will run it by the people with whom I work on the issue. 2. I don't know the answer to that one. 3. I don't have any information about that. 4. Yes. 5. A.- by requiring them on all sales at gun shows B.- They wouldn't since guns sold by private sellers traced in crimes can't be traced to the seller without a background check. That has been noted in various report about crime gun tracing.

  72. You seem to have a misunderstanding about what a "background check" is. A NICS check mandated by the Brady Bill does not leave a paper trail. By law all records of NICS checks are destroyed within a specified period of time. I think it is 24 hours. You cannot trace a firearm by the NICS check. What you are advocating registration.

  73. Thanks, Sean. I do know that a background check is. I know what a NICS check is. Why do you think I don't? If the ATF wants to trace a gun, they can go to the dealer to find out who first purchased the gun. I am not advocating registration.

  74. Let me spin you a scenario. I purchased a lower receiver for an AR-15 from a private seller. If the police wanted to trace it, the chain would end for them at that person. Even if the NICS system had to be used for private sales, the chain would still end at the guy who sold me the receiver.

  75. So if private dealers can go around any mandatory background check since you won't know if they are breaking the law, how does this help?

  76. But if the private seller was required to have you get a background check for the sale, wouldn't the chain end with you or am I missing something? The chain should end with the last person who purchased legally with a background check. Which kind of receiver are you talking about?

  77. What? Can you reword this statement. I am not getting what you mean.

  78. "Which kind of receiver are you talking about?"

    This takes a bit of explanation. An AR-15 is basically a collection of parts that can be put together in many different ways. Think of it as sort of Legos for gun people. The "lower receiver" is the only part you cannot buy online. It is the only part of the firearm that has a serial number on it. That means that it is the part that gets written down on the FFL form 4473, which is the paper the gun shop fills out when they sell you a gun. Every other part can be bought online and shipped directly to your house.

    Here's a picture.


    “But if the private seller was required to have you get a background check for the sale, wouldn't the chain end with you or am I missing something?”

    Since in Pennsylvania, where I used to live, allows private sales of rifles, I was able to buy an AR-15 lower receiver from a private seller. He had too many and didn't need them all. It cost me about $100, which is the normal going rate for a lower. Some are cheaper, some more expensive. He satisfied himself that I wasn't some sort of criminal requiring that I show him my Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms, which is what PA calls its concealed carry license. The actual physical transfer happened in a 7-11, between the hot dog machine and the soda fountain. It was in the middle of SnowMaggedden, and it was too cold to do the transfer in the parking lot. Besides, it looks suspicious selling things out of a backpack in the dark in a parking lot. The cops might think we were selling drugs and try to bust us.

    Now, Pennsylvania uses its own form of NICS, unimaginatively called PICS. Let us imagine that they required that all private sales (gun show or not) have a background check. So our seller calls the PICS number and types my driver’s license number into the automated phone system. The PICS system reads back the last 4 of my social and says either "authorized," or "denied" (or sometimes, “delay”). He hands over the receiver and I go on my merry way, him with $100 and me with my lump of black anodized aluminum. I have purchased a firearm from a dealer in PA, and that's how PICS works.

    The NICS system works basically the same way. You don't tell the system what you are transferring. The NICS system, by law, has to purge its data after a period of time. It's done that way on purpose to prevent it being used as a registry.

    So, in the above scenario, where my seller had access to and used the PICS system, there is still no paper trail, and no way for the police to trace the receiver past the last person who purchased it from an FFL, who would be required to fill out a Form 4473 and retain it for 20 years. The private seller has no such requirement to fill out a Form 4473 for me, and certainly has no obligation to retain records for 20 years.

  79. "The chain should end with the last person who purchased legally with a background check."

    So, basically, in order to close the Private Sales loophole, law enforcement needs to have some sort of enduring, searchable database that matches up each firearm sold by serial number to the last legal owner, right? The NICS system is not intended to do that. Records of NICS checks are supposed to be promptly destroyed. Only the Form 4473 is retained.

    A receiver is a component of a firearm. Under federal law it is the part considered to be an actual firearm itself.


  80. Thanks for that explanation. So then, if the person from whom you purchased this receiver had to fill out the form 4473 for you, you would be down as the last person to purchase this receiver since all checks from private sellers, at least at gun shows, would go through a FFL. I know you bought this item from a private seller not at a gun show. I have not been talking about those types of sales. I would like to extend the background check system to these private sales but we have found very stiff resistance to doing so. What you describe here is something that could certainly happen between a seller and a felon or domestic abuser, etc. He did ask to see your permit to carry, however, so he was responsible enough to check that out. Not all sellers are that responsible, however. Now, though, assuming this man bought this receiver from a FFL himself, he is down as the last person to own it. If you used this gun in a crime, the gun would be traced back to him. If he got it from someone through a private sale, then the trace would be more complicated. It is important to find out where felons and others who shouldn't have guns acquire them in case the person selling is himself a prohibited purchaser or a "bad apple" gun dealer. More on this later.

  81. To Chris- FFLs keep the records of sale with serial numbers. That is how the guns are traced now for the most part. If all sales at gun shows go through a FFL, that would be the record of sale for that particular gun.

  82. The FFL may have the serial number, but how do you know which FFL to ask? Here's my scenario. Let's say I purchase a firearm at Bob's Guns. Then I decide to sell it to my friend and I have Joe's Guns do the transfer. Sometime later, the gun shows up at a crime scene. The cops are only going to get as far as me at Bobs, because there is no reasonable way for them to know that the gun was transferred at Joe's. If I remember where I did the transfer, great, I'll tell them, but unless I am available and I remember, there is no way at all to make that leap.

  83. Japete, the only thing I'm fuzzy on, really, is the following:

    Lets say I want to sell a handgun to an acquaintance. Under your scenario, we would both go to the FFL. We would have the FFL do the NICS check on our behalf.

    The FFL has to have the 4473 filled out by the acquaintance, then call the sale into the ATF.

    If this is correct, then you are, in fact, proposing a registry by which guns can be traced not to their owners, but to where they are. Thats the first step in a confiscation scheme.

    I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you wouldn't advocate something that Draconian, so lets continue...

    If in this sale, the ONLY record of the sale is the 4473 on file with the FFL (because the ATF MUST destroy all records of the NICS request) and the FFL is under no obligation to give copies of the 4473 to ANY other law enforcement (all he's required to do is keep the paper record on file for 20 years), how do the local police, the ATF or ANYONE else know to go to that specific FFL, and ask them who the last person is that bought the handgun with serial number XYZ-###### ?

    It seems, to me at least, that its requiring a process that has absolutely zero benefit, because there is NO WAY for any law enforcement agency to trace that serial number back to the owner. ATF and the NICS doesn't have a record of the person-to-serial-number connection, because serial numbers ARE NOT REQUIRED to be disclosed to the NICS person when the background check is called in. The only info the FFL discloses is the persons name, address, age, height and weight. They aren't even required to use a Social Security Number, although if you provide it, it makes the whole NICS process that much easier to make a positive check to your clean record.

    So we have NICS that doesn't know WHAT you bought, and only knows for a period of 24 hours that you tried to buy a handgun, then even THAT info is tossed into the trash.

    Local Law Enforcement doesn't know (except in states like NJ, MA, and NY) what gun you have, the serial number, etc. FFL's are not required (unless under subpeona by a court) to hand over their 4473 records so that police can search through them to try to match a serial number to a crime committed...

    And when the gun isn't just laying around to get the serial number from, what good is ANY of this in PREVENTING the very gun violence that you are trying to prevent?

    Sorry, but everything you are advocating points to a desire to disarm *everyone*, leaving only the gov't, local police, and criminals with guns, and putting the other 99.99% of the population at serious risk of being killed by:

    A) their gov't...
    B) the Police
    C) the Criminals.

    Sounds just like that Paradise called Britain, or the old Soviet Union, and Mexico, Rowanda, and a host of other places that people are clamoring to get OUT of, and trying to come HERE.

    Sorry, Joan...people in the USA have a healthy mistrust of their gov't, and for good reason. Only a fool would allow themselves to be subjugated to an all-powerful and omnipotent gov't, with no way to protect themselves against those who would gather power unto themselves, and use that power against their fellow citizens.

    That would be living like a slave, not a Free Man.

  84. Good question. Those details have been worked out in states where the laws have passed and will be addressed in any bill forthcoming. In most cases, one or two FFLs have been assigned or chosen to do the checks.

  85. One or two FFLs for a whole state? Are they planning to do it for free?

  86. To Anon- above: " Lets say I want to sell a handgun to an acquaintance. Under your scenario, we would both go to the FFL. We would have the FFL do the NICS check on our behalf.

    The FFL has to have the 4473 filled out by the acquaintance, then call the sale into the ATF.

    If this is correct, then you are, in fact, proposing a registry by which guns can be traced not to their owners, but to where they are. Thats the first step in a confiscation scheme."

    How is this different than when buying from a FFL?
    Here is a good link to ATF and tracing a gun from the manufacturer who has the serial number to the first person to legally purchase that gun:

    This is already happening for guns purchased through a FFL. It would be no different for guns purchased from a private seller who will require a background check through a FFL at a gun show.

  87. The difference is, the ATF is not retaining any info. What you are talking about, a central database that links individual guns with individual owners does not exist (at least not legally) at the ATF. In order to trace a firearm, you have to have all the links in the chain. When a private person sells his gun, either directly or through an FFL, the paperwork chain breaks because you cannot require him to retian a copy of the 4473 for 20 years.

  88. Exactly. That's what I'm talking about. Did we just agree??

  89. No. You keep thinking that there is a way to complete a trace this way and there is not. Secondly you have to examine your motives when you demand a process for tracing guns. I don't want the government to know what I own. There is no justification that you can give to me that will outweigh the dangers of allowing a registry.

  90. Too bad. I thought we had reached some common ground. The ATF is able to complete traces in the manner described on their site. Do you not believe that to be true? They have and do trace crime guns. My motive? It is non other than to keep people on the prohibited purchaser list from getting guns. No registry mentioned or suggested on my part.

  91. Take a look at this article. It talks about how grenades are available from Guatamala for $6.50 (80 pesos).


    I guarantee that you are not going to find any kind of live hand grenade in the US for $6.50.

  92. Thanks for the article, Sean. Interesting. Can we find any kind of live grenade in the U.S.? Also, what do you make of this statement from the article: " "These sales are part of a legal trade, and we have seen that the vast majority of grenades that have been seized (in Nuevo León), and were of American origen, were sold between 1988 and 1990 to countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize." "

    Does the word "American" above, refer to the U.S.?

  93. "Does the word "American" above, refer to the U.S.?"

    Yes, the US government sold lots of military equipment to Central and South American governments. It is these government owned grenades (and machine guns) that are being sold/traded/stolen and end up in the hands of the Mexican drug gangs.

    That's why we keep telling you that these weapons aren't coming from gun shows. The drug gangs would have to be total idiots to buy semi-auto rifles fairly expensively in the US and smuggle them across the border. It is much easier to go south a bit and just buy full military grade weapons and grenades at what sound like bargain basement prices. There's probably a lot of old Soviet stuff lying around down there as well. Why risk the ATF, FBI, and the US Border Patrol when cheaper and deadlier are available from Crazy Paco's Arms Boutique and Taqueria.

  94. Oh, but many of the guns ARE coming from U.S. gun shows and gun dealers. Maybe not explosives and hand grenades, but plenty of guns are coming from right here in the U.S. as I have shown with articles about someone in my own state smuggling guns purchased legally at FFLs. It is common knowledge that many guns used by the Mexican Drug Cartel come from right here in the U.S. I know you guys don't like that fact and refute it but just because you don't like it doesn't make it false.

  95. Its only the "traced" guns that are coming from the US. The vast majority of weapons in Mexico are "untraceable" by US standards since they came from somewhere other than the US -- hence having no serial #'s etc...


    This is by no means an argument to loosen restrictions on the border. QUITE the contrary. If there are uncontrolled explosive and fully automatic machine guns running around down there -- we should tighten security on our border coming back north to prevent these from getting into the US!

  96. From the article( or rather opinion piece or blog) you linked: " Tracing ends when the gun is traced to the dealer who first sold it at retail. So a gun sold legally in 1990, stolen in 2010 and smuggled into Mexico, would count as traced to an American dealer -- but hardly show that the dealer did anything wrong. The story adds, "Indeed, the ATF gave the AP data showing the average "time to crime" - the time between when a gun was sold and when it was seized in a crime - is 14 years. That's an average of four years longer than guns in American crimes, the ATF said." It certainly sounds like the problem isn't with the dealers; they're making legitimate sales, and the guns wind up stolen long after that."

    There is some evidence that some dealers are actually knowingly selling to straw purchasers. But it is mostly that dealers are selling unknowingly to the drug cartel. In addition, because we don't require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows and there are a lot of gun shows in border states, these folks can buy guns from private sellers who don't know who they are selling to. If we tighten that law, it would work to stop some of the buyers or make it much more difficult. Why would we not want to do that? There are also legal purchasers, such as the Mexican American man from Minnesota, who was running guns into Mexico illegally. He finally "triggered" a red flag from a diligent gun dealer who noticed the many purchases by this guy. The gun dealer did his job as he should have. That's a good thing. This man is now in jail where he belongs.