Welcome to Common Gunsense

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Responsibility stories

There are some stories about guns that stand out because they show that doing the right thing is good for public safety. For example, this latest story about a federally licensed firearms dealer (ffl) not doing his job and therefore making us all unsafe because of bad business practices shows that when the ATF can do its' job, "bad apple" gun dealers are caught doing the wrong thing. This dealer in Nashville was shut down by the ATF. Not performing mandatory background checks is bad business. We count on those gun dealers to do their jobs. We know that private sellers do not have to require background checks. But the Brady Law mandates that federally licensed dealers do what is required by law to weed out people who should not be able to legally purchase guns. Without that, we have more guns in the hands of questionable folks. That is not good and certainly not responsible. Just like any other business federally licensed firearms dealers need to comply with the law. Lives, in this case, could depend on it.

Here is another story about illegal guns but this time it is about a private seller who says he got his own guns from gun shows and then turned around and knowingly sold to felons. Interestingly it was a felon who came to law enforcement about the Milwaukee area seller. It looks like the seller will be locked up for a while. But will he sell again when he is released? Perhaps this is a case for a longer sentence. Federal guidelines call for 6 months to 1 year as a sentence. My friends in the gun rights cause may respond to that. At the least, the man was caught and another illegal dealer of guns is off the streets at least for a while.

If we had had more responsible rules concerning the reporting of people with adjudicated mental illness to the National Instant Check System, the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho, would have had a harder time coming by his guns. He could have bought them easily at a gun show because there is no requirement for private sellers to contact NICS to find out if someone is a prohibited purchaser. He could have stolen a gun or two. He could have sought out someone to do a straw purchase or maybe he could have hung out on the streets with questionable folks selling guns for cash. Instead, he was a "legal" purchaser when he bought his guns, one from a local dealer and one on the internet requiring his getting the background check at a local dealer before taking possession. And so, the rest is history.

Now, one of the victims of Cho's killing spree at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, is speaking out. I have written before about Colin Goddard. This article is yet another interview with him as he is getting more and more media attention. Colin belongs to a group he didn't ask to be a member of. He is a victim of a shooting who happened to survive his bullet wounds with only some lingering physical affects involving bullets lodged in his body. But the long lasting emotional affects will stay with him for a very long time. He has become a great spokesperson for common sense and responsiblity as he goes around the country with his story. Colin's story has been made into a documentary film, Living for 32. The documentary film is up for several awards. It will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival and is also on the initial list for an Academy Award for short documentaries. Well-done, Colin. And well-done to the producer and director, Maria Cuomo Cole and Kevin Breslin. They had the foresight to understand that Colin's was a story worth telling and that it could change the national conversation about "gun control" and how to prevent senseless shootings. Watch for more about this video and about Colin.

Colin and his Dad are also writing blog articles together about their experiences and reflections about the issue of gun violence prevention. This is their latest article. I don't know how anything could be more clear than the case laid out in this article for closing the private seller loophole that allows some gun sellers to sell guns with no background checks while others at the same venue are required to ask buyers to fill out forms and go through NICS to make sure they are not prohibited to purchase a gun. This makes no sense. Common sense tells us that this is a flawed system that is crying out to be changed and fixed. The fix is simple. If all buyers at gun shows have to have a background check, the system is uniform and there would be no chance for a prohibited purchaser to buy a gun he or she should not have. This would fix a loophole allowed in the Brady Law that anticipated private sellers at gun shows as occasional sellers and collectors. Realizing that gun shows are just one of the venues where prohibited people get their guns, it is not a "magic bullet" to reducing the sale of illegal guns for illegal people. But surely, it is an important step in the direction of stopping some of the shootings occurring on a daily basis in our country.

The stories and articles above are good news. Two are about someone doing the wrong thing concerning gun violence and being stopped from continuing business as usual.The others are about brave people doing the right thing in the name of public safety and common sense. I say brave people because putting yourself out there in support of gun violence prevention makes one a target for the ire and rath of those on the side of unfettered gun rights. It is sometimes a difficult path and requires tenacity, courage and a thick skin.

Selling guns to felons is not an act of courage. It is an act of selfishness and done in order to make money. We don't need that kind of business. And happily the media is paying attention to what some gun sellers are doing and now to what Colin Goddard and others like him are doing.

22 comments:

  1. If you want to lock people up who knowingly sell guns to criminals, that's fine with me. Give the guy 5 years for all I care, since it's a felony to do so. It's when you call for more laws because, surprise, the criminals still manage to get guns anyway that we have disagreement.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "This dealer in Nashville was shut down by the ATF. Not performing mandatory background checks is bad business."
    The article to which you link describes a paperwork problem. There is no allegation that the gun store sold guns without actually doing the checks as required by law. If there was any evidence of that, the owners would be facing much stiffer consequences.

    ReplyDelete
  3. defend if you wish, Dave. " The ATF said the store failed to document the sales of more than 1,000 guns and a handful of background checks and instances of multiple firearms sales, and it did not complete other required paperwork. A federal judge called Gun City's efforts to improve over the years "woefully and recklessly inadequate.""

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now going after someone like this is an effective use of resources. Then you have cases like Red's Trading Post where the BATFE spent over 2 million dollars attempting to close down a shop for minor clerical errors (like using incorrect date format).

    Think of how many actual criminals they could have gone after w/ all that money and man hours wasted.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Japete: “The fix is simple. If all buyers at gun shows have to have a background check, the system is uniform and there would be no chance for a prohibited purchaser to buy a gun he or she should not have.”

    Let us take this simple fix one step further. Buyer wants to make a purchase from a private seller at a gun show. The private seller can’t do a background check because they do not have access to the background check system. What is the simple fix?

    Japete: “I don't know how anything could be more clear than the case laid out in this article for closing the private seller loophole that allows some gun sellers to sell guns with no background checks while others at the same venue are required to ask buyers to fill out forms and go through NICS to make sure they are not prohibited to purchase a gun.”

    What makes no sense is that some sellers are required to run a NICS check, while others at the same venue are forbidden from using it. Can we agree that it makes no sense?

    ReplyDelete
  6. No, I can't agree with that. There are ways for private sellers to get the checks from ffls. People do that all the time. They ask a seller to meet them at an ffl with the gun so a background check can be done.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Joan, once again you are ignoring the Department of Justice data that shows that Criminals largely ignore gun shows as a source for crime guns.

    And yes, I've handled interstate transactions through an FFL before, because it is required for interstate transactions where the firearm is shipped through a mail carrier. I happened to buy a 300 Win Mag "Long Range Murder Weapon" (as the VPC likes to call any rifle designed for accuracy) from a friend in Illinois, and it was cheaper to ship it out to Olympia WA, than meet halfway.

    But the extra 35 bucks I had to pay have yet ANOTHER background check ran on me was irksome. And it did nothing for crime.

    How about since you are interested only in reducing "gun deaths" and the vast majority of "gun deaths" are from handguns, we REMOVE the Background Check requirement for Shotguns, Carbines, Short Barreled Rifles, and Rifles?

    After all, THAT would be a compromise, I'll support you getting background checks for all pistols if you will support getting rid of background checks for all other firearms.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You guys have all kinds of ideas. Why don't you talk to your Congress person about a bill with these things in it? Start working on a plan to get a bill and see where it goes. I can't say whether these are good ideas or not until I have talked to all kinds of people like law enforcement, legal folks, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Did you really just say that? That you can't form an opinion until you talk about it with someone else?

    Maybe if you and I both talk to Congress in a concerted effort, we could get the law passed to make Anon's compromise a reality. I notice that you never suggest we work on THAT together.

    Also, to comment to your post, I have no problem with the top portion of your post. I agree that criminals should be locked behind bars and I probably go a bit further on how long they should be imprisoned than you do because of the bad name they give, not just gun owners but.. well.. citizens.

    But since you bring up Colin and that he has become a great spokesperson because of the scars and tragedy that he experienced, can you comment on Nikki Goeser and Suzanna Hupp, who both also went through a horrific experience, yet also speak about common sense and responsibility to own and carry a gun? The reason I ask is that it would seem to me that not everyone has the same reaction that Colin did, which is not to say that he is lesser, just that others who go through this kind of tragedy don't feel they need to disarm everyone from carrying publicly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm with Sebastian.

    I'm willing to bet that it is six months to a year per charge. If ATF had been able to pin more sales on him then they'd have gotten more charges.

    It seems odd that older guns don't qualify for the longer sentence; I wonder if it has something to do with ex post facto laws? Maybe someone who is more knowledgeable on this particular law can explain the details.

    It is also possible that ATF is "climbing the ladder." That is, they pay a felon $500 and offer him a sweetheart deal or immunity to pin Gerald Colke. Now they cut a relatively lenient deal with Colke with a light sentence, but only if he fingers the people he bought from. Work your way up the chain. This is how federal prosecutors work all sorts of cases -- drugs, SEC violations, fraud, etc. You start with the little fish, offer them deals in exchange for compliant testimony on bigger fish, and work up the ladder.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

    PS -- I'm glad you're calling it the "private sales" loophole now. It is more honest than "gun show loophole" and more accurately represents your actual goal, in my opinion. Perhaps you could just go all the way and say that you want registration, as that is what any effective system would likely entail?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dave is really something trying to claim it was just a paperwork crime. The thing about missing paperwork is, especially when it amonts into the 1000s, that it's missing to coverup a more serious crime.

    What are you saying, Dave, that this kind of thing never happens and the ATF manufacturers these charges?

    ReplyDelete
  12. first of all, I don't think I eliminated a possibility of working together on something but it would obviously depend on specifics and details. Second of all, I have addressed the Suzanna Hupp situation in other comments and I don't intend to repeat it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Chris- I am calling it the private sale loophole because that more accurately reflects what's happening at gun shows. Many of you have said that we should require background checks on all private sales but only under condition that private sellers have access to NICS. I am talking to people who know something about this issue to help me understand the implications of such an idea. I don't know everything, but luckily, I know people who have more knowledge than I with whom I can consult.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Dave is really something trying to claim it was just a paperwork crime. The thing about missing paperwork is, especially when it amonts into the 1000s, that it's missing to coverup a more serious crime."

    Depends upon the paperwork. If it's missing paperwork, so their is no trail to indicate who bought the gun, that's one thing. If it's a form where the blocks were filled in with 'Y' instead of 'YES', that's something else entirely.

    The paperwork errors in this case were of the former sort, and from the comments I've seen on TN gun forums, the local gun owners had been hoping that ATF would close it down for a number of years.

    The problem is that ATF spends far too much of its time prosecuting errors of the second sort. It's sort of like OSHA, most of which's citations are for failure to post the proper OSHA posters on the company bulletin board. It's easier for the inspectors to process these sorts of meaningless paper violations than to deal with actual safety violations.

    Much of the same thing is going on at ATF. The gun community cuts ATF very little slack because they've proven themselves to not be trustworthy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Chris- I am calling it the private sale loophole because that more accurately reflects what's happening at gun shows. Many of you have said that we should require background checks on all private sales but only under condition that private sellers have access to NICS. I am talking to people who know something about this issue to help me understand the implications of such an idea. I don't know everything, but luckily, I know people who have more knowledge than I with whom I can consult.

    That's a great mindset and like I said, I think the language you're using now is much more precise. That's a good thing.

    "Gun show loophole" caused considerable confusion and was perhaps even misleading; I've spoken to people who thought that there were different rules at gun shows than at other venues even though exactly the same rules apply there as anywhere else. "Private Sale Loophole" is much more accurate and really gets to the heart of the issue.

    I find it much easier to discuss and find agreement when people are precise with their language and say what they mean!

    ReplyDelete
  16. jdege, thanks for that information about the local TN gun owners wanting to have this bad gun dealer closed down.

    I don't know where you get the other idea that the ATF spends "far too much of its time prosecuting errors of the second sort." I sure hope you're not just repeating what others have written on the internet. Othewise, how would you know what the ATF spends "too much of its time on" anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "I don't know where you get the other idea that the ATF spends "far too much of its time prosecuting errors of the second sort.""

    This isn't news. It's been a common complaint for decades.

    This is from a Senate committee report in 1982, in the hearings that lead up to the passage of the Firearms Owners Protection Act:

    "The Bureau's own figures demonstrate that in recent years the percentage of its arrests devoted to felons in possession and persons knowingly selling to them have dropped from 14 percent down to 10 percent of their firearms cases. To be sure, genuine criminals are sometimes prosecuted under other sections of the law. Yet, subsequent to these hearings, BATF stated that 55 percent of its gun law prosecutions overall involve persons with no record of a felony conviction, and a third involve citizens with no prior police contact at all.

    The Subcommittee received evidence that BATF has primarily devoted its firearms enforcement efforts to the apprehension, upon technical malum prohibitum charges, of individuals who lack all criminal intent and knowledge. Agents anxious to generate an impressive arrest and gun confiscation quota have repeatedly enticed gun collectors into making a small number of sales--often as few as four--from their personal collections. Although each of the sales was completely legal under state and federal law, the agents then charged the collector with having "engaged in the business" of dealing in guns without the required license. Since existing law permits a felony conviction upon these charges even where the individual has no criminal knowledge or intent numerous collectors have been ruined by a felony record carrying a potential sentence of five years in federal prison. Even in cases where the collectors secured acquittal, or grand juries failed to indict, or prosecutors refused to file criminal charges, agents of the Bureau have generally confiscated the entire collection of the potential defendant upon the ground that he intended to use it in that violation of the law. In several cases, the agents have refused to return the collection even after acquittal by jury."

    Despite the later passage of FOPA, these abuses continue. E.g. John Glover, David Olofson, Brad Martin, Len Savage.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I don't know where you get the other idea that the ATF spends "far too much of its time prosecuting errors of the second sort." I sure hope you're not just repeating what others have written on the internet. Othewise, how would you know what the ATF spends "too much of its time on" anyway.

    Many of the ATF agents are posting about corruption and upper management issues on a website called cleanupatf.org. Many of us hear things from credible sources in the bureau.

    That is where David got his information from on the walking the guns story commented on another post. It was from a credible source inside the ATF who made the issue public.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't find this one to be credible either. Who is behind this website? There are no names of actual people and there really isn't much about the group supposedly behind it. Here is what it says under "who we are"- " CleanUpATF.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to returning integrity, accountability and decency to the management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE or "ATF"). "


    Who wants to restore integrity? Who is this group?Have you ever thought to get more information about them? Running along the bottom of the site is a faint white line saying that the site is most definitely not operated or sanctioned by the ATF. If you click on the webmasters, there is no information about them. So this is a site that can tell us nothing except that it is run by a group who are out to discredit the ATF.

    Please find something credible. This is not it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Joan - These people can lose a great deal by discussing things so they aren't going to put out their identities so you or someone else can run with it. Personally I don't care if you believe it or not. I was making a point. That point is that not everything that is going on is on a web page for your viewing pleasure. That doesn't mean it isn't happening.

    You can private message people.. and you can validate identities if "they" want to be validated. As I said, it's a group of ATF agents who want to bring honor back to the ATF.

    Here is a post from one of them on the forum....

    This is an example of the lack of transparency of ATF management. Try to FOIA anything that has to do with ATF and this what you get. Why is this a surprise to anyone? This site has been begging for attention to the corrupt mismanagement and double talk of ATF headquarters for nearly two years. CleanUpATF is not an enemy of the state. It is agents, headquarters personnel, support staff, compliance employees, retired employees and civilians who have been given no voice, no attention and no respect by the very people to are taking a sharpie marker and hiding every single thing they do wrong and insisting on selling us on the lie that all is well and they are doing everything right. What is happening at ATF is going to be examined by Congress, the media or both and when that happens in a real way, not a brush over, ATF's leadership team is going to bring one of the biggest embarassments ever known on Holder and DOJ and Obama and the White House. They've ignored the situation and they are just as responsible for the tragedy that has become ATF every bit as much as the ones who made it happen directly. Melson can go on CNN and tell the nation that he won't tolerate bad conduct on his watch but he did, he has and he continues to. Not a single person at ATF believes his lies any longer. Can there be any stronger vote of 'no confidence' for ATF leadership than the one taking place right now and before the eyes of Holder and Obama?

    PS: is it possible for ATF to become a bigger joke than we already have? Our leadership has made us irrelevant in everything we do behind their lies and deceptions. There was once a day when other agencies and police departments welcomed an ATF walking through their doors. We are now being locked out of cases that fall under our very jurisdiction because our management is so inept. We once lead the way as the Fed's street cops. Not any longer. Thanks ATF management for turning us into an agency that tries to be everything to everyone but in reality is nothing to no one.


    This is how "whistle blowing" starts... nobody runs to the Times when they have something to lose until their ducks are in a row.

    And again, you don't have to believe in who they are... the point of all this is that there are people in the know... and they are talking.. just not to Mike.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I don't doubt the ATF has the same problems as any other bureaucratic organization, but a hearing from 30 years ago is hardly proof of what exactly the dysfunction is. So, as I said, you guys just keep repeating what each other say about the ATF (and others too).

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please find something credible. This is not it.

    Now that the MSM is finally starting to pick up the story.. would you accept this about the Gunwalker story?

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/31/2044011/senator-examines-gun-claim-in.html

    "Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw buyers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the Southwest border area and into Mexico," reads a letter sent Thursday from Grassley to Kenneth Melson, acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    ReplyDelete