Thursday, February 05, 2009

Guns, Gun Shows, and Loopholes

I am not by any means a gun nut. My dad had a 22 rifle when I was little, which we used to plink cans on a deserted beach once or twice a year. Other than that, I had absolutely no involvement with guns growing up. Still, over the years, I have managed to collect quite a few handguns, almost in spite of myself. Here is the current collection back at the house:

Purchased by me or my wife Laurel:
  • A brand new Smith & Wesson Model 442 38+P Revolver that I bought for Laurel this past Christmas
  • A Beretta 380 Cheetah Pistol Laurel bought maybe six years ago to use at the range with her late husband.

    Inherited from Laurel’s late husband Nick:
  • A nice little Rossi 38 small frame Revolver.
  • A beautifully engraved Reproduction Black Powder Revolver.

    Inherited through my late wife, Suzy:
  • A mid-1960s Smith & Wesson K-38 Masterpiece Revolver that belonged to Suzy’s stepfather. He bought it for protection during the Newark riots.
  • A 1920s Iver Johnson 32 Top Break Revolver that belonged to Suzy’s grandfather. Legend holds that he declared it “unloaded” seconds before it went off and shot out the leg on the chair his sister was sitting in.
  • A 1920s Harrington & Richardson 32 Top Break Revolver that was also her grandfather’s.

    We are not in the “gun business” and do not possess these weapons as investments, nor offer them for sale. None of them is particularly valuable, and neither of the old 32s is even operational.

    Now for the sake of argument, let’s say I was milling around a table at a gun show looking at some antique guns, and another customer asks the dealer if he has any 100 year old Iver Johnson auto-ejecting 32s. The dealer replies that he sold his last one about an hour ago, but I overhear the conversation and offer that I have a gun like that I would be happy to sell it to the customer.

    Needless to say, as a private citizen I do not possess a federal firearms dealer license, nor do I have any means of contacting the National Instant Check System. That is the so-called “gun-show loophole.” Never mind that the same happenstance could occur while browsing the history of guns books at Barnes and Noble or shopping for ammo at Bass Pro Shops. Somehow, two citizens meeting at a gunshow and striking a deal is a loophole that the anti-gun crowd feels needs to be closed. And, honestly, it could be remedied fairly easily by having the show organizer hire a dealer to run background checks for private transactions occurring on the premises.

    But what about private transactions that occur elsewhere? Wouldn’t they constitute the next loophole? And couldn’t two individuals, in an effort to avoid the cost of the background check at the show, simply step across the street to the parking lot to complete the sale? The only way to remedy that inevitable "parking lot loophole” is to require a background check every time a firearm changes hands. And how far would the anti-gun people be willing to take that concept?

    Would a father buying a gun to give to his son prior to a hunting trip be required to conduct a background check on his son? What about a son giving his elderly mother a pistol to keep by her bed because she has been robbed three times by neighborhood thugs? Is he required to run a check on his mother? And what kind of system would have to be established to run these checks? Where precisely do I go to have the government certify that the guy I grew up with and have known for 30 years is not a convicted felon so I can sell him my old gun?

    There isn’t a nice, neat gun show loophole that we can close and solve everybody’s problems. Because if we close that one, we will have created about a thousand “private citizen” loopholes that open up as a way around the gun show background check.

    Post a Comment

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

    << Home