Yes I have heard about all the attempts to confiscate and to ban all firearms. I know that criminals do not follow laws so laws only affect those who are already law abiding. I also know that the law abiding can make mistakes. Sometimes negligence is the catalyst; sometimes ignorance; at other times the potential benefit seemed to be greater than the risk. Every action or inaction has potential rewards and consequences.
Can we agree, however, that some laws are necessary? Does it make sense to get rid of every stop sign? Do we even want to imagine what things would be like if no building codes or standards for bridges existed? What if there were no legal statutes regarding assault, robbery, burglary, rape, murder?
Sure some stop signs are unnecessary. Some of the codes are outdated and others are just nitpicky and have no bearing at all upon quality and safety. Hopefully most believe that those who commit crimes like those I listed should face legal repercussions.
The above is not intended to begin an apples and oranges style of comparisons or to confuse from the original question in the title. It’s to consider the truth that some requirements go too far and others do not go far enough. The key in my opinion is developing and implementing that balance which protects the law abiding, discourages those from disregarding the laws, and punishes those who break those laws.
Here in the US there were approximately 54,026 federally licensed firearms dealers operating out of gun stores in the year 2014. In addition to these dealers approximately 7,810 pawnbrokers in 2014 had a Federal Firearms License to buy and sell firearms. While I could not find a recent figure, the DOJ estimated in 2007 that the number of gun shows in the United States ranges between 2,000 and 5,200 per year. They cited no definitive source, but the numbers in my opinion are more or less reasonable especially when counting smaller local exhibitions.
The process in which to receive a Federal Firearms license is multifaceted. If you’re interested in the steps involved, you can begin reading at the following link.
To purchase from an FFL dealer or broker, the buyer must complete ATF Form 4473 and be cleared by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Both the form and a portal for NICS information are linked below.
Will any of the above required of holders of an FFL stop 100 percent of would be criminals from purchasing a firearm from that dealer or broker? Of course it would not. Even if consistency existed amongst the states as to how and what information is submitted to the system, it would not be flawless.
Even if a flawless system could be constructed, it’s true that someone could obtain a weapon illegally. The gun lobby and “conservative” media mocked President Obama for this statement even though they use the same rhetorical argument for why laws cannot stop criminals. “As long as you can go in some neighborhoods and it is easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable, as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence.”
My question is not about whether NICS or other requirements of FFL holders are sufficient, good, or bad. My question is why do the NRA, gun lobby, and Congress continue to make an expensive and targeted effort to allow unlicensed sellers to take business from the law abiding businesses?
Per 18 U.S. Code § 921
Firearms dealers engaged in the business definition:
[A] person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.
By contrast, a so-called “private seller” (one who is not “engaged in the business”) is exempt from federal licensing requirements.
The so-called “gun show loophole” does exist, because private sellers can and do conduct transactions at many gun shows. Yes, an FFL holder still has the same requirements whether at a gun show or in a place of business, but these private sellers who at times advertise their merchandise do not.
Whether or not “gun show loophole” is an appropriate term, the difference for private sellers exists so why not hold them to the same standards?
It won’t save lives you say?
Perhaps not from a mass shooter; perhaps not from a criminal; but the few minutes completing that paperwork just may help someone realize the potential power of a firearm. Some words about safe storage could be exchanged nonchalantly which may prevent an accident from negligence. It may stop that person who should not buy a firearm from an immediate purchase.
Even if one is callous enough to believe that it doesn’t matter or believes that my wishful thinking is not related to this “loophole,” treating private sellers the same only helps those dealers who went through the time and effort to obtain and FFL.
Because they followed the law and have additional overhead why should we encourage them to be undersold by “private” sellers? If buyer and seller are from the same state, a “private collector” has few restrictions as a seller.
That’s a fact even though many argue otherwise. Some, however, do argue the more reasonable and factual worry that if we held private sellers to the same standards of FFL holders, it would prevent someone from gifting their son or daughter or selling to a neighbor or friend.
The Manchin-Toomey Amendment proposal of 2013, however, took those worries into account and discussions regarding such took place on the Floor of the Senate.
The basic truth is that expanding the background checks only brings equal treatment to FFL holders and those who sell legally without obtaining a license.
Personally, I would like a clear definition whether it’s number, gross receipts, or if things such as focused advertising are involved to differentiate between a business and a private seller.
I think showing respect to the responsible business owners benefits all. Expansion does that and honestly does not prevent anyone who is currently able to purchase a firearm legally from making that purchase.
Of course it won’t prevent criminals from getting guns or murders from taking place, but cite any regulation that is 100 percent effective? Cite any safety precaution that is 100 percent effective?
If expansion saves only a single life; the life of a toddler perhaps because Joe the collector who is a good guy simply saw the cash on the table and unbeknown to Joe because he did not have to conduct that little NICS check, his buyer had a previous conviction for trying to eliminate his or her child. Are those few minutes you or I lost so terrible?
If you think so or your retort is that they don’t need a gun to kill their child, I really feel sorry for you. One because of the selfish attitude and second because of the hypocrisy. If you do not understand, realize that you are using the logic that if one doesn’t need a gun to kill then one doesn’t need a gun to keep from being killed.
That’s the simplistic double talk being delivered by the NRA and gun lobby making such a big deal that an expansion of checks is infringing upon rights.