Gun shows, Internet keep weapons flowing around background checks

Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 10:10pm
GunLede0114.jpg
(Illustration by John Perlock)

 

On a recent Saturday morning, the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Park was a microcosm of the gun universe.

A line of bundled-up firearms enthusiasts stretched from a parking lot filled nearly to capacity, up a concrete walkway, and through the doors of the arena-like facility. Among the crowd were men and women (and quite a few children) who seemed to represent every gun-owning demographic: Some carried hunting rifles or shotguns, while others stood waiting with handguns in holsters, visible on their hips; others walked up to join the crowd, clad in fatigues and toting military style rifles on each shoulder. 

The occasion for their gathering was a gun and knife show, this one organized by Iowa-based R.K. Shows Inc., whose calendar boasts 17 shows in six states in January alone. In Tennessee, you could attend such a show every weekend for at least the next two months.

A veritable festival of the armed American, the gun show has long been at the center of the gun debate, a place where unregulated private sales and those of licensed professional dealers overlap. Gun control advocates often point to such shows as a primary example of the dangerous gaps in the country’s gun laws created by secondary markets. For gun-rights advocates, on the other hand, attendance has increasingly become a political and cultural statement, particularly after recent mass shootings have renewed calls for tighter gun restrictions.  

Inside the expo, the spectrum of the firearms constituency becomes even more clear. On the floor of the arena, vendors have set up several hundred tables and booths, catering to every imaginable exercise of the current interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Some tables attract hunters, offering shotguns and traditional hunting rifles, along with various hunting gear, such as binoculars and game calls. Elsewhere, antique collectors sell World War I and World War II era guns, engaging interested passers-by in discussions about a particular pistol or rifle’s place in the history of weaponry. 

For recreational and competitive target shooting, some vendors offer long-range rifles, with a variety of scopes to match. On a smaller scale, there are booths specifically for the survivalist or “prepper” — individuals stocking up on firearms, food, water and other emergency supplies they might need to survive in the event of a tyrannical government crackdown, a crushing economic collapse or another unforeseen cataclysmic event.  

And then there are vendors focused solely on self-defense. Table after table is lined with handguns for concealed carry, and various rifles for home defense, described by sellers as “anti-personnel” — that is, specifically designed to be used against a person. Some sellers screen films like Rambo or Dirty Harry on their laptops. At one booth, a large crowd gathers as a former law enforcement officer demonstrates his product — “The Ultimate Concealed Carry Holster” — and extols the virtue of being armed.

“Concealed carry is not just a right,” he tells the increasingly intrigued onlookers, “it’s a responsibility.” 

Naturally, there is a wide selection of accessories and paraphernalia for the proud gun owner. For those looking to work on their aim, conventional targets — the round bulls-eye, by itself or positioned on a human silhouette — are readily available. For those desiring a little more excitement, there are images of zombies and Osama bin Laden, and full-sized replicas of deer — and humans — that explode on impact. 

One booth features a variety of gun literature, along with what appear to be homemade copies of William Powell’s infamous work The Anarchist Cookbook, a sort of survival guide with instructions on making everything from explosives to drugs (the book has since been denounced by the author). There are also T-shirts, many of which make ironic use of clichés bandied about whenever a national discussion on guns starts up.

“Guns don’t kill people,” one reads. “Proper sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control does.” 

Given the timing of the show, less than a month after 20 children and six school administrators were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a political subtext is evident in the conversations and transactions taking place on the expo floor. On several occasions, men can be heard engaging in fevered discussion about the fierce resistance that would meet any attempt by the federal government to confiscate all guns from the citizenry — an idea that has not even been implied by the federal government, but has served as a constantly beckoning windmill for gun-rights advocates nonetheless. 

Even a stranger to the world of firearms who’s watched TV news at all in recent weeks would recognize some of the items for sale. At one table, a man selling from his private collection holds up an AR-15, a rifle similar to the one used in several recent mass shootings, including Newtown. “You know that’s gonna be on the ban list,” he says, showing it off to a prospective buyer. 

At another table, stocked with a variety of guns, ammunition and other accessories, a young man approaches with two magazines — devices on the gun that hold ammunition to be fed into the firing chamber — still in their packaging and proposes a trade to the man behind the table. He offers both of his magazines for four of the increasingly controversial 30-round magazines on the table. The math of the deal does not benefit the vendor, but it’s close enough that he considers it. In the end he rejects the offer, but in the course of their negotiations, the young man proposing the trade reveals his motivation. 

“I need to go back to New York,” he says, picking up one of the magazines he’s hoping to obtain, “and these are illegal there.”

 

A gun show combines the professional business of firearms and the wheeling-and-dealing of a neighborhood yard sale, all under one big roof, and charges the masses $10 a head for the buffet. 

For $66, an individual or group can reserve a table on which to hawk their wares. 

Some are local gun shop owners or other professional dealers, who see the crowded shows as a chance to bring their storefront to many more would-be customers in a day than they might otherwise see. For them, the generally two-day events are a potential boon for sales or, at least, marketing. 

The rest are an assortment of private sellers, many looking to sell or trade individual guns or downsize large personal collections. But among them are private sellers who look very much like licensed dealers. 

It is not uncommon, members of the industry said, for these individuals to set up at show after show, flipping guns, as it were, and engaging in what is essentially a professional gun-dealing operation — without the regulation that goes along with it. And that practice is irritating to more than just those sounding the alarm about the dangers of unfettered gun sales.

Bill Bernstein, owner of East Side Gun Shop in East Nashville, objects to these ostensibly casual sellers on business grounds. Strictly speaking, they don’t pose direct competition to his business, since he stays away from gun shows. But their regular activities end up looking very similar to his, just without the rules, regulation and red tape. 

“It’s their ‘private collection,’ ” he said, “[but] their private collection changes every week, and every week or every gun show they’re out there with a different table of guns, buying, selling, trading. I’m sorry, to me that person is an unlicensed dealer.”

Bernstein said the problem is with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives’ somewhat amorphous definition of the term “dealer.” The bureau defines a dealer as a person “who devotes time, attention and labor to dealing in firearms ... with the principal objective of livelihood and profit.” At the point when a person is selling and trading firearms as a means to obtain other firearms, which they then intend to sell and trade, they’re encroaching on that definition, Bernstein said. 

“I wanted to engage in this business,” he said, “I went and got a license. I have to go through inspections periodically, I have to present records to ATF when they come calling — and they did last week — I have to pay sales tax on whatever I sell. And these guys don’t.”

The often blurry distinction between the two groups — private sellers and licensed dealers — and the large gray area populated by those seemingly operating somewhere in the middle, has been a consistent pressure point in the debate over guns and gun control. Gun shop owners like Bernstein and other professional dealers must obtain a c (FFL), and are therefore required to comply with various rules and regulations, including mandatory background checks on all customers, whether at a gun show or in their shop. Due to what is known as the “casual sale exception,” however, background checks are not required on private sales, wherever they take place, as long as the transaction does not cross state lines.

Bernstein is not calling for stricter regulation of what he considers “unlicensed dealers” for the purpose of stronger gun control, but rather in the interest of general fairness. Simply put, they’re cutting corners where he can’t. But his complaint also lends credence to the primary argument against the legal exceptions that allow such activity. 

Under the guise of a casual private sale, these unlicensed dealers are able to operate outside of rules and regulations, such as required background checks, that would typically govern sales of similar volume and frequency. On the flip side, they create a quasi-legitimate market where individuals who would otherwise be prohibited from obtaining a firearm can purchase one. It is a felony to knowingly sell a gun to a prohibited person, but without a required background check, the situation effectively becomes one of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” regardless of the intentions of the dealer. 

The perceived gap in the law is the source of a commonly used, albeit somewhat flawed term — “the gun-show loophole.”

Gun-rights advocates recoil at the term for a number of reasons. Generally speaking, they reject the notion that more regulation is needed in an area where many among them already feel there is too much. They also point out that it falsely suggests an unintentional oversight in the law — indeed, whether or not one agrees that it is an oversight, the casual-sale exception is undeniably intentional. Moreover, like conservatives in debates over the tax code, they object to the negative connotation of the word “loophole,” which suggests an insult being hurled at citizens simply following current law. 

But whatever you want to call it, the scenario paves a legal path to potentially illegal transactions. Just as the wrong gun in any hands can be illegal, so can any gun in the wrong hands. And the lack of required background checks for private sales at gun shows, or in other secondary markets, makes it at least possible for a person legally prohibited from owning a gun — such as a convicted felon — to obtain one. 

 

The term “gun-show loophole” is not just flawed for the way it might malign the well-meaning and law-abiding gun owner. It is also insufficient to describe the magnitude of the gap in regulation to which it refers. 

Originating from a time when gun shows and newspaper classifieds were the primary mode of the secondary gun market, the term fails to account for the Internet, a virtual Wild West for commerce of any kind, not just the transfer of firearms. 

“People need to realize there is a permanent gun show every day online that is accessible to anyone with a computer,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Bloomberg News in an interview last month.

Indeed, on the Web, as at the gun show, a prospective buyer can engage in a variety of transactions, some of which are burdened by very little regulation. 

GunBroker, an eBay-like auction site, boasts more than 1.8 million registered users and 2.5 million unique monthly users, which include private and licensed sellers. Because federal law requires that modern firearms be shipped to a licensed dealer, who is then required to run a background check before completing the transfer, virtually all transactions on the site are of the regulated variety. A prospective buyer must make arrangements with a Federal Firearms License holder — a local gun shop, for instance — and fax or mail a copy of the dealer’s signed license to the seller. At that point the gun may be shipped to the licensed dealer, who runs the requisite background check and completes the transfer as if it were any other transaction in their store. 

Elsewhere, however, the online firearms market is more like the aforementioned yard sale. A site like Armslist is essentially the Craigslist of firearms, a comparison that illustrates the nature of much of the activity on the site. Click on the website, and you are met with a disclaimer — which explains that Armslist does not become involved in transactions, tells users to follow all applicable laws, and indemnifies Armslist for “any and all loss, harm, damage, costs, liability, and expense caused to them, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by [customers’] use of Armslist.com, including but not limited to direct or indirect results of violations of any and all applicable laws.” Clicking “Agree,” just as you would to rent an R-rated movie at a RedBox, takes you into the site.

Both private and licensed dealers can be found on there. Postings from licensed dealers note that a background check will be required, while some private-party posts ask for either a background check, or proof of a handgun-carry permit before purchase. 

(While completion of a handgun safety course and fingerprinting is required for such a permit, Tennessee’s handgun-carry permit does not meet federal requirements, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, because it does not require an annual recheck of the permit holder’s criminal history, and does not require a check through the National Instant Check System. As a result, Tennessee handgun-carry permit holders must still submit to a background check before purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer out of state.)

But many listings from private parties include no such request, and some even use the lack of a required background check as a selling point. 

As of this writing, a listing from a private dealer featured a Bushmaster M4 carbine — a military-style rifle, in the same family of firearms as the AR-15 that has been the gun of choice in several recent mass shootings — with 900 rounds of ammo, half of which were hollow-point bullets. Also included in the offer were eight magazines, five with a 30-round capacity, and three with a capacity of 20 rounds. The seller requests “cash only” and offers to “do a FFL transfer if you choose.” There is no list price, so the gun is for sale to the highest acceptable bid.

Armslist did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Gun-rights advocates often dismiss talk of “assault weapons” as fearmongering from individuals who are simply ignorant about firearms, and they are not entirely off the mark. Previous assault-weapons bans often focused on cosmetic features that have little bearing on the actual threat posed by the weapon. This is an outgrowth, opponents to such bans argue, of a misplaced fear of guns that “look scary.” At a gun show, one will undoubtedly come across a standard .22 caliber rifle that has been dressed up to look like something straight out of the movies — a slick design catering to appearance more than function, akin to car manufacturers including a spoiler option for a station wagon. 

But when President Barack Obama and others talk about assault weapons or keeping “weapons of war” off American streets, the M4 carbine and its kin are more likely the kind of weapon they have in mind. In a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Stanley McChrystal, a retired four-star general, described the weapon this way: 

“The M4 carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 mm, at about 3,000 feet per second,” he said. “When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed to do that, and that’s what our soldiers should carry. I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around schools in America.”

 

Requiring universal background checks, along with just about any other gun control measure, is a virtual non-starter in Tennessee politics. There is an argument to be made that federal legislation is the only kind that is practically enforceable when it comes to guns anyway. After all, an assault weapons ban in one state is easily undermined by the lack of one in a neighboring state. Still, some states have put in place their own stricter regulations. 

But while proposals to close the so-called gun-show loophole, along with others to ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons like the AR-15, are currently being pushed at the federal level, the only related pieces of legislation likely to appear in Tennessee would expand and defend current gun rights, not restrict them. State Sen. Frank Niceley, for instance, introduced legislation on the second day of the new legislative session that would prohibit the use of state funds or personnel in and federal confiscation of firearms.  

Gov. Bill Haslam’s office said he won’t be proposing any legislation on the matter, and that the governor would have to see any related legislation before commenting.

Although it would benefit him financially, by way of facilitating transfers and performing background checks for private sellers, Bernstein said the idea of requiring universal background checks “offends” him as an “unnecessary infringement on people’s liberty.” He also noted, as a practical matter, the difficulty of enforcing a background check requirement on 100 percent of gun sales. 

“Before I became a dealer,” he said, “I bought and sold many, many guns over the hoods of cars and in parking lots with guys that I emailed once or twice. That’s kind of standard.”

The only way to approach certainty about universal background checks would be to require universal registration of firearms, an idea seen by many in the gun community as a bridge to confiscation by the federal government. 

Some in the industry have said they could live with a requirement for background checks at “sanctioned events” like gun shows, but they decline to state that publicly. If that’s because they’re worried about upsetting their consumer constituency, the state’s elected officials can relate. Last year, in large part for the crime of standing in the way of the National Rifle Association’s signature piece of legislation, Debra Maggart, then-chair of then House Republican Caucus, found herself on the wrong end of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, which contributed nearly $100,000 toward her eventual defeat in the primary. 

John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, was perhaps the most vocal member of that political effort. He is vehemently opposed to magazine limits or bans, assault weapons bans, and any expanded statute that would require background checks on private sales — citing the proverb, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, that those who would give up liberty in the pursuit of safety
deserve neither. 

“We do not require background checks on transfers of cars to see if the purchaser has a prior DUI or reckless driving conviction that might predict an increased probability of a future accident or crime,” he said. “We do not require background checks on doctors to see if any prior malpractice has resulted in an accidental death to limit the probability of future malpractice. We do not punish all owners of Mercedes because a football player gets drunk and has an accident, killing a teammate. 

“Similarly, we have no statistical data to establish that background checks on private sales of firearms would have any statistically significant capacity to keep firearms away from those who have no criminal or psychiatric history but for some reason later commit a crime.”

Indeed, background checks do not appear to have a Minority Report-style ability to predict future crimes, committed by individuals with no criminal past. They do, however, keep firearms away from already prohibited persons.

In 2012, excluding the month of December (for which records are not yet available), 15,255 people in Tennessee were denied purchase of a firearm due to a failed background check, according to the TBI. That number represents just over 4 percent of all attempted purchases from gun stores or other licensed dealers in the state. Additionally, 407 wanted persons were identified as a result of the TBI’s Instant Check System.

The system, which applies to pawnshops or other businesses where an individual might try to sell a gun, allows the retailer to run a check on the weapon. It resulted in the identification of 412 stolen firearms. However, such businesses are not required to run a check on weapons brought into their store, nor are individual gun owners required to report a gun missing or stolen. 

The City Paper was not witness to any transactions at the gun show in Williamson County, or while strolling the aisles of the Internet, that were verifiably illegal. But given the statistics on the number of attempted purchases denied in stores — as well as estimates that up to 40 percent of all gun sales occur in the under-regulated secondary markets — it seems possible that a number of them might have been transactions involving prohibited individuals. It’s a question that gun regulation advocates have been asking: After a shop owner’s actions prevented an illegal sale, how many buyers went to the gun show next?  

 

Back at the gun show, a group of men and women sit in folding chairs just outside the large cluster of tables and booths. Several sit with various types of rifles leaning on their shoulders, price tags hanging from the end of their barrels. Others have handguns lying at their feet. David Layne, a 75-year-old military veteran, is selling a .44 Magnum rifle. There’s no price tag on the gun, since he had traded for it earlier in the day, but it’s an impressive weapon, and it halts the occasional passer-by, eliciting a second look and an inquiry. 

Asked if he’s ever worried about who might be trying to buy his gun, he gives a somewhat surprising answer.

“Yeah,” he says, “all the time.” 

The first gun Layne ever fired, he says, was an illegal gun. Someone had taken a .22 rifle and cut the barrel and stock off, turning it into a single-shot bolt-action pistol. Layne said he used it to shoot rats on the Ohio River. 

“It’s not the bang, it’s not the recoil of the gun,” he says of the gun-show crowd’s attraction to firearms. “It’s putting a hole in a piece of paper. That’s why the majority of these people in here, that’s all they ever do. They don’t hunt, they shoot at targets. Or they shoot at beer cans, or they shoot at plastic bottles. It is challenging to do that.”

“You got too many guns?” he continues. “Well how many is too many? Let’s take a golfer. How many clubs does a golfer have? How many does a golfer need? He’s probably got 15 in his bag, he needs five. But one time he wants to take a particular shot, with a particular club.”

Having fired guns in a military context, Layne says he doesn’t believe that weapons like the M4 and AR-15 are too military-like for the citizenry. On that question, and the matter of universal background checks, Layne’s view is similar to that of Harris’, a variation on the idea that any tool can be a weapon if you hold it right. 

Most private sellers The City Paper spoke with were willing to talk, as long as their name didn’t end up being used (an issue given new political weight after several publications nationwide caused uproar by publishing public records listing gun owners and even maps of where the owners reside). But to a person, they all gave a response similar to Layne’s with regard to the unknown quantity represented by a random buyer at a gun show. Without a background check, the trustworthiness and potential motivations of the person on other end of a gun sale are even more unknown than they would be otherwise. Each seller recalled a time when they had denied a sale to an individual based essentially on a gut feeling. 

While chatting with a reporter, Layne fielded some interest from a man to whom he later said he would not have sold his rifle. The prospective buyer immediately commented on how “badass” the gun was, and how loud it must be. He didn’t seem like a guy who knew anything about guns, Layne said. He didn’t seem to respect their capability. 

“You can tell, just by generally looking at a person, who’s shady and who’s not,” he said. “You gotta go by that, you gotta have your instincts. Most of the guys I know around here do not want to sell shady or illegally. But it can happen. It can happen. You don’t know.” 

 

 

 

 

A gun-show owner on the ‘loophole’

Attendees at an R.K Shows Inc. gun and knife show are met at the door with a bit of unintended irony: The shows are, essentially, gun-free zones. 

The policy prohibits loaded guns, loaded magazines and loose ammo, requires that showgoers check guns at the door. And that occasionally raises eyebrows with the typically armed crowd. But Rex Kehrli, owner of R.K. Shows, which put on a recent gun show in Franklin, told The City Paper there’s a good reason for the rule.

“I’m a big believer in concealed carry. But there’s one area that I’m not a big believer in concealed carry and that is at a gun show. We get people coming in there that want to check out a holster for their handgun, that want to maybe show their handgun to a friend, or maybe even trade their handgun. And we simply can’t take the chance on public safety that everybody is going to handle that firearm correctly.”

R.K. Shows organizes gun and knife shows in eight different states. Asked about the so-called “gun-show loophole,” Kehrli took issue with the popular term, which he said puts the public spotlight on gun shows when many more private gun sales take place over the Internet or through newspaper classifieds. Nevertheless, when it comes to legislation that would require universal background checks, he said R.K. Shows is agreeable to “whatever the locals are comfortable with in each state.” 

“We look at this as a states’ rights issue,” he said. “I do some shows in the state of Colorado, where they have to do background checks on gun shows on every firearm sold. And, you know,
it works OK for us. It works fine.”

As for unlicensed dealers — that is, individuals who frequently sell guns for a profit without a license, and thus the various rules and regulations that come with a license — Kehrli said he thinks the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms deals with the problem well, and frequently sends out what are essentially cease-and-desist letters to people who may be flirting with the line. 

Kehrli said that at his gun shows, upwards of 85 percent of table holders are federally licensed dealers. He also cited a Clinton-era study suggesting that less than 2 percent of guns found at crime scenes had passed through a gun show before ending up in criminal hands. 

But a couple years ago Kehrli found his business in the middle of just such a case. At a Chattanooga gun show put on by Kehrli’s company in March 2011, Jesse Matthews, a convicted felon and federal fugitive, traded three handguns he had stolen, in exchange for an assault rifle. According to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, the transaction between Matthews and a private seller fell under the casual-sale exception, meaning a background check was not required. Less than a week later, Matthews used the gun to fire on police officers as he fled a robbery, and eventually shot and killed police Sgt. Tim Chapin.

—Steven Hale

47 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 1/14/13 at 7:48

I left the following post on the Up For Debate comment board, that board also addressed this same issue:

We have a priorities problem in this country. The federal government was easily able to outlaw Cannabis (Marijuana) in all fifty states....there were no mass rallies or protests when the unwarranted federal power play went down....people cheered, if anything....the states all acceded to the federal power.

Getting a federal handle on firearms across the country has been far more difficult in comparison. Cannabis, a plant, has been deemed to be far more dangerous to society than firearms.

We say, "yes", to pistols; but "no", to pot....oh yeah, we have a priorities problem in America today. This is mass hysteria, my friends....and it's not likely to end anytime soon, it's going to get a lot worse....professional zealots are stoking the fires of passion in the bellies of the agitated gun-owners....some disgruntled gunners are apt to snap.....stay tuned for more carnage.

By: rickmuz on 1/14/13 at 9:23

And yet the fallacy of some sort of loophole in gun shows is perpetuated yet again... Let me state for the record the following FACTS.
I attended that gun show as well as the gun show this past weekend at the fairgrounds in Nashville. Although I did not find the gun I was looking for at the Williamson Co. Ag expo, I did find it at the show in Nashville (a handgun BTW not an assault rifle)

HERE IS THE FACT: ALL!!!!! (including the one I bought my gun from) LICENSED FEDERAL FIREARMS DEALERS ARE REQUIRED TO DO AN FBI INSTANT BACKGROUND CHECK ON ALL!!!!! GUN SALES IRREGARDLESS OF WEATHER THAT SALE TAKES PLACE IN A STORE OR A GUN SHOW.

This fallacy of a loophole is just that! The only person's not required to do a background check is an individual selling to an individual; which would be the same if you replied to an advertisement in the newspaper.This is not only because they are not required to do so, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to do so. ONLY ATF licensed dealers have access to the FBI system, which requires your dealer number to start the input.

Gun shows have VERY FEW individual sellers in attendance! Quit perpetuating this "Gun show" loophole and start calling it what it is 'THE PRIVATE SELLER LOOPHOLE"

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 9:26

Here we go---more liberal diatribe. Washington DC has extreme gun regulation, yet one of the highest incidences of gun violence.

Gun regulation only affects lawful owners. Criminals don't give a dang what Joe Biden says.

By: cleaner on 1/14/13 at 9:32

Steve Hail. Well written article. You did well on keeping your bais at bay. We all have them. You demonstrated simple how people at a gun show are not always what they seem, as with any business. I am in business and it is frustrating to pay all the government taxes, licenses, and insurance requirement then have to compete with someone whom doesn't. Sure you can get a deal but at what cost. Same with private sale of guns there will alway be those that go around the system no matter what the law. We have no one to inforce them but ourselves. Seems like moral fiber is still lacking in this world.

By: Concertina on 1/14/13 at 9:36

Thanks for this excellent article.

"Attendees at an R.K Shows Inc. gun and knife show are met at the door with a bit of unintended irony: The shows are, essentially, gun-free zones [loaded guns are checked at the door]. . . 'we simply can’t take the chance on public safety that everybody is going to handle that firearm correctly.'”

Utter hypocrisy -- one rule for me, another for thee.

You can't take a chance on public safety AT A GUN SHOW because, as you so correctly state, some people might not have the training or self-control to handle guns correctly. And yet you are willing to put the public safety of EVERYONE ELSE EVERYWHERE at risk by enabling easy and unregistered access to guns via private sales.

By: BenDover on 1/14/13 at 9:59

Many people don't want to do the background checks because it is a de-facto registry. The government has made clear its aim to restrict ownership of certain weapons. The 'background check' tells them where to start looking for those weapons should government grant itself the authority.

There is much historical precedent for this. Our 2nd amendment has simply slowed the process down a bit in America.

By: pswindle on 1/14/13 at 10:24

The NRA does not care for anyone or anything except their guns. We have to put our children first and ban the assault-rifles. The crazy people always go after our children. We must do somethinhg, now.

By: frodo on 1/14/13 at 10:27

Yes, cleaner, this article is definitely above City Paper standards.

By: BenDover on 1/14/13 at 10:42

pswindle, the best thing we can do to keep our children safe is to provide them a safer society where violent criminals have to worry if breaking into a house or attacking a citizen will result in armed resistance.

The violent crime rate in America is < 30% of what it is in the UK.

By: BenDover on 1/14/13 at 10:47

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ooa98FHuaU0

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 10:57

psswindle: You have been brainwashed. America is in a complete moral and ethical meltdown where depravity and narcissism is embraced. Guns laws will not fix that.

By: frodo on 1/14/13 at 10:59

Amen to Brothers BenD and the Jughead!

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 11:03

Jughead, I've noticed you don't give a dang about what Biden or Obama have to say. Interesting.

I find it curious that when the Republican party wanted a list for the good of the country, one of their arguments was if you aren't breaking the law, what difference does it make if you are on a list. No problem making a list of doctors that perform abortions. No problem making a list of people that participate in a peaceful demonstration. Now, when Republican gun owners/buyers are supposedly going on a list, they are up in arms about it. Literally, advocates have gone on record saying they would fight to the death to keep their guns.

I keep hearing gun advocates claiming Obama is trying to nullify the 2nd Amendment and take away everyone's guns. I've yet to see any of these advocates produce any sort of evidence to this end. The UN thing is about international sale of weapons, not internal sales in any country. The US has gone on record stating opposition to attempts to regulate guns in this country by the UN.

@rickmuz, while part of what you say is true, current laws do not address these private sellers that are in fact big time gun dealers that don't bother to open a brick and mortar shop and obtain the proper licenses or follow procedures that licenses dealers follow. This is the loophole.

By: Left-of-Local on 1/14/13 at 11:06

Anyone opposing the absolute 100% presence of background checks and government oversight in at least an observation and registration capacity is totally out of control and nuts, period.

Nobody should have a problem agreeing on those basic ideas. This is like recycling... "why not?" is a question the opposition never seems to be able to answer. Outside of "cuz Idunwanna!" Like a toddler.

When something has no potential for harm and only the potential for help, and someone still stands strongly against it, their "principles" are suspect.

By: BenDover on 1/14/13 at 11:23

I gave a reason LoL... because the background check is a de-facto registration and registration, historically, has always lead to confiscation.

Otherwise they wouldn't require a weapon's serial number in the 'background check' process.

It's not paranoia if they really do want to take your guns. And the aims of a growing radical minority who are in positions of power over our society to do so is quite clear.

If they wanted to shoot for increased gun control they should have reacted after Aurora or the Gabby Gifford's shooting making that a campaign stand and let our democratic election process be an arbiter of the issue. They specifically held back their plans and machinations until a tragedy after the election so they would not have to face the immediate wrath of the voters.

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 12:17

@ancient: What part of "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed" do you not understand?

I know liberals pick and choose what parts of the Constitution they like to be enforced, but this is pretty clear.

And, you are right--I WILL fight to the death for that right.

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 12:18

Anyone named left-of-local has a brain of jello and worships Hitler, Marx, and Stalin. Lord--you utter imbecile--have you even ONCE opened a history book?

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 12:22

Loner...If the founding fathers had just thought about making marijuana use a right. You do realiize that the second amendment garuntees our right to have and possess guns, not marijuana, don't you?

This is such an odd situation. People drive, drink and kill, in vehicles every day. It happens over and over again. Even though we know it is happening and is going to continue, nobody calls for the ban of vehicles, but more importantly, nobody treats others that own and drive vehicles responsibly like they are criminals. When someone robs a bank, we don't blame their neighbors. When a drunk driver kills someone, they are punished. We have police that aggressivly look for drunk drivers so they don't kill others, but we don't punish everyone else for their actions.

I'll tell you what, you can take away my 2nd amendment rights if you let me pick one to take from you.

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 12:43

@jughead: I understand it completely and support it. I don't see where anyone is trying to completely remove guns from this country's citizens. Last I checked the initiative headed up by Biden isn't advocating banning handguns, shotguns or rifles. It is looking at stricter controls in the form of psychological testing. It is looking at stricter controls of weapons that can be modified for automatic fire of a high number of rounds in a short amount of time.

@ BenDover: You have no idea if a gun you are buying was used in a crime. Providing the serial number of the gun with the registration process allows law enforcement to check if it was reported stolen may then lead to connecting it with a crime.

@ CrimesDown: We are on a list of registered vehicle owners. Is someone coming to take those away from us? What is the problem with registration of guns? If a registered gun is used in a crime, police can track down if the gun was reported stolen, track down the owner, and possibly track down who currently possesses the gun.

By: GUARDIAN on 1/14/13 at 12:53

It's bad enough that the left lies but their use of half truths would choke a hippopotamus. There are laws on the books to stop most all of the problem gun sales but the ATF and our new communist government is to busy selling and giving weapons to our terrorist enemies and the drug cartels. I'm not going to waste time beating your dead skunk but I'll give you some quick FBI facts. Non-firearm homicides outnumber firearm homicides by over 5,000 each year and there are three times more deaths from automobiles. Medical errors kill 20 times more Americans each will firearms are used over 4,000 times a day to protect human life. As far as ARs and AKs they are rifles and ALL RIFLES combined account for only 3.5% of all firearm homicides. Along with these FACTS put this in your pot/crack pipe and smoke it. I am only ONE gun owner of perhaps 100 million and most feel as I do. Guns are not about hunting. They are to protect me and my loved ones against one and all including an evil government if it ever came to that. I am a Citizen of the United States of America... of sound mind and no criminal record... I am no threat to anyone or anything save those who would do harm to my Family... my Friends... my Nation... my GOD and Myself... I am protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution to the right to bear arms and from GOD the right to defend Me and Mine from all harm... Any assault by usurping my rights through new legislation... taxation... registration of Arms or threat of force I will regard as an attack on my very life and my right to FREEDOM. Μολὼν λαβέ ... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: James Arthur on 1/14/13 at 1:07

This is a well-written microscopic examination of ... the wrong thing.

The right of self-defense is the most basic human right there is--the right to defend your own life. It's God-given, it's unalienable, and it's protected by the 2nd Amendment.

If you're against that, you're saying a 100lb woman being attacked in a dark corner of a parking lot has no right to defend herself. She has to simply wait, and hope we catch her killer after she's dead.

If you're against larger magazines, you're condemning honest citizens to death--shopkeepers had to hold off mobs of fire-bombing looters for six days during the LA riots. 10 rounds, against a mob? Or, if you live in a remote place, against multiple invaders? A woman in GA recently emptied her .38 protecting her two children from an invader, /without killing him./ That's 6 shots. What if there were two invaders?

In 2009, an estimated 48,000 people were infected with HIV, very much disproportionately from gay transmission.

If the concern is truly about saving lives (not to mention the immense medical cost and social burden), shouldn't we be registering gay people, putting them on lists? Maybe require a training course, and a license?

OF COURSE NOT! That would be unimaginable. Yet, for gun-owners, that's today's conversation.

Taking rights from good guys--impairing, impeding the exercise of these rights--this helps nothing, fixes nothing.

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 1:34

@ancient: You gradeschool analysis speaks volumes--and equals the mental faculaties of most liberals. Comparing car registrations with gun registrations is, well, doltish. Show me where the right to own and drive cars is constitutionally protected---go on--we are waiting.

This is EXACTLY how Hitler started. Exactly.

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 1:55

Last I checked, a bigger magazine wouldn't have done a thing for a .38 revolver. .38 super semi-automatic pistols hold 9 rounds minimum from what I've seen, with EAA making some models with 17+1 rounds. Were the 6 rounds on target? And by on target, not just hitting the invader in the leg or arm or a grazing hit, but on target, center of mass or headshot?

Any shopkeepers standing their ground in view of a mob of fire bombing looters approaching was deceived in his ability to fight off a mob, especially in light of police warnings that were sure to have been given. It doesn't matter what the size of a magazine is, a handful of people with automatic weapons against a mob would still lose. The US Army found that out during the Korean Conflict when the Chinese intervened.

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 2:04

Jughead, I'm not the one that introduced cars into the argument, gun advocates did.

Are you proposing that unregistered guns for all is the answer? Wouldn't that simply allow the common criminal or gang member to walk into a gun shop and buy whatever he desired at retail prices instead of black market prices? The majority of the responses from gun advocates that I've seen in any question on gun control is self defense against those criminals. I don't see how any law abiding citizen could be against gun registration and background checks. But then I can see how separatists, those that anticipate and may even be planning on overthrowing the government, simply because they said no to something they want, would be against any form of regulation.

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 2:38

@ancientidiot: Was I vague? Yes--I absolutely oppose registration of guns. That is how dictators start--get the registrations, then take them away.

We have background checks, nimrod. Not registration.

I truly hate you. You are a stupid liberal who is clueless. Please die soon.

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 3:14

You do realize that the German Chancellor in 1928 placed a number of strict gun control laws in place. This was five years before the National Socialist party came into power. In 1938, under Hitler and the Party, most of those restrictions were eased or eliminated. In 1945, Eisenhower ordered confiscation of all firearms from the German citizens.

It's important to note that Jews were not considered to be German citizens, even if born in Germany. As such, they were prohibited from owning guns. Chances are your information comes ultimately from Jewish resources, which may indicate guns owned by Jews were confiscated by Hitler. That much is most likely true, but not the entire county.

I know from your last post that this information will be completely wasted on you. It doesn't fit with your vision of the world, so it must be false. All it takes is a simple search on the internet "Hitler and gun control" and you can read it for yourself from the source.

By: dangerlover on 1/14/13 at 3:22

I guess it is to be expected with the use of words like "irregardless" and "weather" instead of "whether" that the ability to understand big words escapes much of the gun nut crowd, but you don't get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution you want to enforce, regardless of which side of the aisle you subscribe to. The Second amendment does NOT read, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

It reads, and this is important, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

If you don't like the "well regulated Militia" part, it doesn't really matter. In fact, it doesn't matter at all.

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 3:33

ancienthighway...Driving is not a right, it's a privilege. If you don't want to register a car, don't own a car. Everyone seems to forget that there is a difference between rights and privileges. This debate has nothing to do with me. I can carry a gun in every state, including D.C. and New York City. It's about everyone's rights. I've learned through my job not to leave my house without my pistol. No matter what you think, Nashville is not safe. Some of the other cities I've been to, that have the strictist gun laws, are the most dagerous places in the U.S. Why is it okay for me to protect myself, when the average person is more or less thrown to the wolves in these crime infested cities?

That being said, the rights that our thoughtful predecessors bestowed upon us, has more reasons than just home and self protection. It's to protect our country from an over reaching government. That's why the, "we didn't have 30 round magazines when they wrote the 2nd amendment" argument doesn't hold water. Citizens had the exact same pistols and rifles that the military used. The highest tech at the time. You may say thet people had more sense back then and I tend to agree with you. That's why we need to protect ourselves now more than ever.

By: Jughead on 1/14/13 at 3:39

It is the gov't and liberals who scare me. One is self-perpetuating, the other just stupid.

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 3:42

dangerlover...I have misspelled words in my posts and I have seen other misspelled words in posts, but I try to read the thoughts and not pick on the spelling. If I worried about spelling, I couldn;t read this papper, or any other paper for that matter. Just so you know, I checked some of your other posts and when I found a misspelled word in one of them, I stopped looking. I just wanted to make sure you weren't the only perfect person posting here.

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 3:45

dangerlover....To be honest, your mistake could have been a typing error and not a misspelling.

By: ancienthighway on 1/14/13 at 4:07

I said this before, and I'll say it again.

I support the Constitution. I support the 2nd Amendment, along with every other Amendment. I've never proposed repeal of any of the carry laws, although I have spoken out against them before they became law.

I don't see the need for any citizen to own a rifle that can be modified to fire automatically, nor do I see a need for 30 round magazines. A shotgun, in particular a pump action one without the shoulder stock, is more effective as a home defense weapon. Or should the American citizen start carrying these weapons around town instead of handguns for self defense? Is our country that bad that we have to throw back time 150 years where every man had to carry a gun strapped to his waist?

The unfortunate thing about the reporting of crime rates is that seldom do people look further into the where the crimes are concentrated and among what demographic. Gang activity and gang turf wars most likely are responsible for the bulk of the numbers. It seems the police and gangs have an unwritten agreement: keep it between the gangs and the police just do nominal policing, spread it to non-gang victims and things are different.

If the justification is that the government, i.e., military has them, then we should also be able to own armored vehicles and tanks, surface to air missiles, and suitcase nukes. Ridiculous!

The talk in gun control now is beginning to focus more on the person that owns the gun and maybe even those that have access to it. Hopefully this will prevent unstable law abiding citizens from obtaining a gun, and subsequently stop the mass school, theater, or mall killing sprees. The need for self defense against the criminal still exists. Carry permits is a part of the solution. But better police and community action in breaking up these gangs is part of it, too.

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 5:16

ancienthighway...Just so you know, if you don't already, any semi automatic pistol or rifle can be modified to shoot fully automatic, every single one, hunting rifles, sporting pistols and shotguns.

By: CrimesDown on 1/14/13 at 5:22

ancienthighway...If I'm not mistaken, in the last 60 years or so, a fully automatic rifle or pistol hasn't been used in a mass shooting of any kind. I also believe there hasn't been a single police officer killed with one in that time period either. I posted this without checking but if there has been, I would be surprised.

By: Loner on 1/14/13 at 5:29

Wow! This well-written article has brought out the idiots and the assholes, for public scrutiny....and these jokers are passing as "law-abiding gun owners"....until they can't stand anymore and then snap....oh yeah, we are coming for your weapons boys, and we will pry them from your cold dead hands.

Better stock up on yer ammo and secure your bunkers...we are coming!

By: Loner on 1/14/13 at 6:16

Jughead is typical of the American gunner...gullible, scared and deceived....an undereducated dupe. Sadly, there are millions of Jugheads out there....hair-brained & armed to the teeth....time to clean them out, once and for all....let the round-up begin!

By: acblynch on 1/15/13 at 4:11

Free citizens, a free market, and guns, the guaranteed formula to annoy a "progressive".

By: ancienthighway on 1/15/13 at 9:37

Loner, I hate to burst your bubble, but gun ownership will always be legal in this country. Well, unless one get the backing of a whole lot of states and the federal government to repeal the 2nd Amendment. That isn't going to happen. Or maybe if one stages a coup and overthrow the American government. That isn't going to happen either.

By: Jughead on 1/15/13 at 11:20

Bring it on, Loner. I will be proud to display my ignorance to your skull.

By: Jughead on 1/15/13 at 11:21

And, Loner is just another pathetic pansy liberal with a picture of John Kerry above his bed. All part of the wussification of America.

Be careful what you wish for, sweetcheeks..there are a lot of me out here, and we are ready to go.

By: adchick on 1/15/13 at 9:32

Why is the NRA fighting bans on high-capacity clips and assault weapons? Do you really think they want to protect our 2nd amendment rights?

NO folks, you are their lackeys, getting all fired up with your cold dead hands talk. Follow the money. The only growth segment in the gun industry is the assault segment and all the stuff that goes with it like clips, body armor, bullets that would render a deer inedible if used for hunting. The NRA throws around the rhetoric, gets the yahoos all nervous and sits back while you do the heavy lifting for them. Do you really think they care about your $35 dues each year? No, not as long as the gun manufacturers are shelling out millions to finance the NRA. You are playing right into their hands, giving them the appearance of grassroots support.

Brilliant, really.

By: Ask01 on 1/15/13 at 10:12

After reading some of the spittle flecked ranting input posted by the weapons enthusiasts, I can easily see a time when there will be a total round up of firearms.

I mean, consider the comment in which a poster, using a time worn, overused bit of rhetoric, declared he would defend his guns to his death. Not to mention the comment which I interpreted to be a threat.

These comments only serve to paint a picture those advocating total confiscation can present as undeniable evidence some gun owners are too unstable, volatile, and dangerous to be allowed to possess any item more dangerous than a rubber band.

The constant, mindless, regurgitating of catch phrases about cars and knives kill people, let's ban cars and knives; the ever popular, guns don't kill people, people kill people; the even more popular, you can pry my gun from my cold dead hand, all reflect poorly on the individuals mental capacity and educational level, as well as being truly annoying. The bright side is we might clean up the gene pool a little after the guns are taken from the cold dead hands.

All because some are too dense to comprehend the current issue is assault style weapons and high capacity magazines, not the common pistol, rifle or shotgun. Their inability to understand and the foaming at the mouth rhetoric might have unintended consequences.

The trials will be entertaining though.

By: ancienthighway on 1/15/13 at 11:56

Ask01, I simply dismissed that post as a tantrum typical of a two year old.

By: Ask01 on 1/16/13 at 5:53

ancienthighway, I dismiss any of your posts as demented ravings. You do, however, present yet another reason laws will be passed. That hard headed, blinder wearing, refusal or inability to comprehend.

This is a perfect example of the mindset which will eventually force politicians to, while not abolishing the Second Amendment, setting strict limits to prevent the lunatic fringe from attempting an overthrow of the government.

Considering the liberties taken with the rest of the Constitution these "people" hold so dear, I'm sure there are several on this board already under surveilance by the authorities.

The gene pool purging is indeed long overdue.

By: ancienthighway on 1/16/13 at 6:39

I believe you misunderstood which post I'm referring to, not your post but the one with that perceived threat that was posted on 1/14/13 at 1:38. And yes, I took it as a threat initially, but chose not to respond.

If my post on 1/14/13 at 3:07 is a demented raving, then I welcome my dementia.

By: Jughead on 1/16/13 at 11:47

I hate liberals, and I look forward to the day when America melts down and liberals are eliminated. Only then will justice reemerge.

By: Ask01 on 1/16/13 at 6:23

ancienthighway, I have been called many things, but one thing I am not is incapable of realizing when I am wrong.

I I must apologize as I was too quick to lash out when I was in a hurry to get ready for work. I did indeed think I was the one being attacked. I am sorry for the misguided post.