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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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The truth about private sellers and identification

Since there has been such a fuss on this blog about what is legal or not at gun shows and many have challenged me about what I am saying, I decided to consult with a lawyer involved with gun issues. This lawyer noted that when the NRA successfully lobbied for the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, it made sure that those selling guns from their "private collections" could do so without a license and therefore exempt from the FFL requirement to do background checks on buyers. As a result, people can go to gun shows and sell lots of guns without a background check because they can claim these are personal collections. Prosecutions of such "dealers" are rare, thanks to the NRA. 

Some of my commenters claimed that I.D. is always required by these unlicensed dealers and that not to ask for such is illegal. My lawyer friend set this straight for me. There is no such legal requirement for a private seller to ask for ID, proof of in-state residence or anything else. If a seller has "reasonable cause to believe" he is selling to an illegal buyer, the seller could run into trouble with the law. But illegal buyers don't usually tell sellers that they are felons, underage, etc. So the "don't ask, don't tell" system works well for these sellers. Follow the money...

This June, 30 2010 artlcle from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM.org) titled: " Private-Party Gun Sales, Regulation, and Public Safety" by Garen J. Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., Anthony A. Braga, Ph.D., and David M. Kennedy, notes the same thing that my lawyer friend told me. " Private sellers are not required to see identification or keep records and they cannot initiate background checks." In addition, Wintermute, Braga and Kennedy note: "  .. although it is always illegal for certain classes of people to buy a gun, it is illegal to sell a gun to such people only if the seller knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is doing so. Unscrupulous private sellers may simply avoid asking questions that would lead to such revelations.1"


This article from the Legal Community Against Illegal Guns also explains the problem with private sellers at gun shows and the difficulty of the ATF in monitoring the numerous gun shows and the many potential violations at the shows. But when the ATF has monitored gun shows they have found offences such as: convicted felons buying guns, straw purchases, unlicensed people selling guns as a business, licensed dealers failing to keep records or require background checks, and people in possession of prohibited firearms such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.


I know it is difficult for some to believe that gun shows can be the source of illegal activity. I suspect that if the ATF could monitor more of them, more problems would surface.Different states have different laws and gun shows in one state are different than in other states. When I am writing, I am writing about general issues nation-wide and advocating for federal laws so that people in every state know the rules and abide by the same set of regulations. This would prevent some of the illegal gun trafficking, would keep guns from being used in crime and would save some lives. That only makes common sense.


28 comments:

  1. The reason it is difficult to believe is because the Feds looked into it and found that the number of firearms recovered in crimes that were purchased a gun shows was extremely low.

    What I want what advantage does the Brady check and all the FFL paperwork? Can you point to any evidence that these restrictions on our rights have reduced crime?

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  2. The ATF has estimated that gun shows provide the 2nd highest number of traceable crime guns. The advantages are that not just anyone can buy a gun. That's huge!!!

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  3. If they are sold illegally at gun shows by private citizens ( who are most likely unlicensed dealers & tax evaders) then how are they being traced to a gun show?

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  4. They are not necessarily guns sold by private sellers since those are difficult to trace. The point is that anywhere between 25-50% of sellers at gun shows are private sellers. One can assume that if a number of crime guns are traced to FFLs, a number of crime guns come from private sellers. But the more important point is that there are "law abiding" citizens who purchase guns at gun shows from FFLs and then sell them on the streets. All guns start out as legal purchases ( and yes, I have shown how it is legal for sellers to unknowingly sell to prohibited purchasers if they have no reaseon to suspect the buyer). So how do the guns make it to the illegal market? Stolen, bad apple gun dealers allowing straw purchases, and gun show purchases. I have already featured an article about the Mexican American man who bought many guns legally in Minnesota and trafficked them to Mexico to sell to the drug cartel. If we require background checks on all sales at gun shows, crime guns will be easier to trace.

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  5. "The advantages are that not just anyone can buy a gun."

    And that is the real plan. Your group (and the others like it) want to slowly shrink the pool of people that are permitted to buy a gun. Ideally, for some of your allies, that number shrinks to zero for most types of firearms like pistols and "assault weapons."

    You have answered the first question, what advantage, now you have to answer the second. What evidence?

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  6. The moment they sell the gun on the streets they are no longer "law abiding".

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  7. Yup. We want to shrink the pool to stop prohibited people from purchasing guns.

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  8. I say we substitute "private sale loophole" for "gunshow loophole".

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  9. Mike, and drop the inappropriate “loophole” word. The law should read “extending background checks to cover private sales that occur at gun shows”.

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  10. "loophole" - def. A legal activity that I don't like.

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  11. Where did you get that definition, Sean?

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  12. I swiped it from Tam.

    http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2010/02/loophole-loophole.html

    I cleaned up the language a bit.

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  13. Yeah- that's a credible source. Here is the definition of "loophole" from Merriam Webster: " : a means of escape; especially : an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded"

    I think this describes the situation quite well. It is an official definition that is commonly held as opposed to the one you linked. Nice try though.

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  14. "an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded"

    Since the law was written that way on purpose, no one is "evading" the intent of that law by selling his gun to his friend.

    You like to call it a loophole to make it seem like someone is getting away with something. what's really happening is that you got what you wanted before and you want more now and we won't give it to you. Get used to disappointment.

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  15. Sorry TS, japete's right. "Loophole" is the perfect word to describe this. Besides your description is much too long.

    Close the private sale loophole!

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  16. I'm curious of what type of background in firearms law your lawyer has. Many states do require an ID check when a private sale is conducted. Here is a quote from the Massachusetts form FA-10 which has to be used for all private and FFL sales:

    "All purchasers must be at least 18 years of age and possess a firearms identification card when purchasing rifles and
    shotguns. Purchasers of firearms (pistols and revolvers) must have either a class A license to carry firearms
    or a class B license to carry firearms and be at least 21 years of age."

    And here is a link to the actual form if you would like to see it http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/chsb/firearms/FA10.pdf

    There is no "Gun Show Loophole". If people are illegally transferring firearms at gun shows then that act is just as bad as illegally transferring firearms on the street. One other statement you made that I disagree with is where you said "As a result, people can go to gun shows and sell lots of guns without a background check because they can claim these are personal collections. " Absolutely untrue. Most states have a limit on how many firearms a person can sell in a given time frame. In MA, a person is prohibited by law to sell more than 4 firearms in a calendar year. I understand that you don't like guns, but my problem with people like you is that you don't look up the facts before writing articles like this. Maybe acting ignorant and ignoring the facts makes it easier for anti-gunners to get their message across, but selective ignorance is still purposefully misleading the public.

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  17. This lawyer is nationally known for his knowledge of gun laws. You are quoting MA law. I am talking about federally and what most states require. As I have said, the videos speak for themselves about what these unlicensed dealers did or did not do. You are wrong about the loophole. The facts are that these things are happening at gun shows all over the country. You can try to argue with those facts but they are the facts. It is commonly known. Because you don't like the facts does not mean they are not the facts.

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  18. Dear Steve McNally, Maybe you're the one purposely misleading. You don't hear too many gun control folks complaining about MA laws. We're generally talking about more gun friendly states. No one is saying gun shows in Mass are the same as those in PA or LA.

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  19. Funny, Brady gives Massachusetts a 54 out of a possible 100. That's an F anywhere I went to school. So spare me the pious declarations that gun control folks aren't complaining about Massachusetts.

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  20. That's actually a good rating if you are grading on a curve: " Four out of every five states score below 25 points out of 100. The state with the strongest gun laws is California with 79 points, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and New York. In addition, only 7 states have closed the gun show loophole. Find a category description by clicking here and then find your state by clicking here and finding your state on the interactive map." Here is the link: http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/bcam/stategunlaws/scorecard/StateRatings.pdf MA was the 3rd highest ranked state. My own state got a 15. Here is what MA is doing right: http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/bcam/stategunlaws/scorecard/BradyScorecard.pdf

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  21. MikeB: “You don't hear too many gun control folks complaining about MA laws. We're generally talking about more gun friendly states.”

    Is your implication that the gun control folks are satisfied in MA? If so, you’ll eat those words for sure. Speaking from a CA perspective (the No.1 Brady rated state), our gun control folks complain the loudest. The thing is they have moved past the national issues you are complaining about. They have no “gun show loophole” (in fact they have banned all private sales). Gun shows still go on, and they still hate them- so they passed a law to ban the Cow Palace gun show (to stop the gun show there entirely). Watch this guy speak.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P__IGQPitfw

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  22. All right, all right. Mass has crap laws and they need to be tightened up. Is that better?

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  23. Mike, how about CA? Crap as well?

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  24. I just returned from a Gun Show at the MN State Fairgrounds this past weekend. I collected a little anecdotal evidence, take it for what its worth.

    I stopped at 13 booths with individuals (not dealers) selling firearms, and talked with 8 individuals walking around with firearms for sale. In each case, they demanded to see a "Permit to Purchase" or "Permit to Carry" as a means of verifying whether I was someone prohibited from purchasing a firearm. Even though its technically not required for me to have either for a "long gun" transaction.

    I think you forget that these folks watch the news, and go onto the Internet as well. It would appear that the other side has begun to "self-police".

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  25. Thanks, Pat. That's good to know. We have had a bit different experiences but things vary perhaps from show to show. But if the sellers are getting better about asking for the permits, that is indeed good news.

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  26. I'm am sorry japete, but I see absolutely no logic to this descussion. A person with enough discontent for the law to use a firearm to commit felony (namely taking a human life) will not be detered by another law "on the books". Even if firearms are gone from the face of the eath, that will not stop crime. It will only necessitate finding a diferent means to commit the act. If firearms were gone, what would be next? Prohibiting poket knives? Pint beer glasses? England is a shining example of how well all of this has worked. Yes GUN crime has fallen, but their violent crime rate is more than double that of the US. So I ask: Did England's gun control make their people safer or only less likely to be shot?

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  27. Yes, you are right, Anon. I'm so sorry that there has been no logic to this discussion either. "Prohibiting poket knives? " First of all, it's pocket, not poket. Second of all, I have gone over this before many times. Pocket knives are not the cause of nearly the deaths that guns are. They don't come close. Second of all, England's gun deaths are a very small percentage of their homicide deaths and by comparison per 100,000 don't even come close to that of the U.S. I've also gone over this many times before. I guess you missed that discussion on other posts. Given that, it's hard for you to end with the question above- "Did England's gun control make their people safer or only less likely to be shot?" They are surely less likely to be shot. I understand that all countries have crime and that should be of concern for sure. But I don't think you can come to the conclusion that if the people of England had more guns, they would be safer and less victimized by crime. You would have little proof for that. I have not stated that crime will stop if guns are gone from the face of the earth. You said that, not me.

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