Gun Show Loophole? What Gun Show Loophole?

“U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced legislation on Sunday that would limit the flow of illegal firearms into New York City by closing the gun show loophole and giving authorities more power to prosecute gun trafficking rings,” theepochtimes.com reports. “The legislation comes on the heels of 10 arrests made by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Nov. 30. The arrests were the result of an eight-month, gun show investigation that uncovered serious violations by several New York gun dealers.” Ah, yes, the eeeee-vil gun-show loophole. Time for a reality check . . .

1. There is no such animal as a gun show loophole
2.  Fewer than one percent of criminals obtain their guns at gun shows
3. If there were such an animal, New York state closed it eleven years ago

Every law that applies outside gun shows applies inside the doors. Federal Firearms Licensees (a.k.a., gun dealers or FFLs) at a gun show must fill out their ATF Form 4473s and do their FBI background (NICS) checks just as if they were at their shops (or their homes for that matter).

The purported loophole that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand seeks to close: private firearms sales between private individuals. Not dealer to customer, or customer to dealer. Private citizen to private citizen. A transaction which does not require a Form 4473 or a NICS background check.

Another part of the loophole myth: a large percentage of people with tables at gun shows—somewhere between 25 and 50 percent—are unlicensed dealers and traders. They’re unlicensed because they aren’t selling guns. They sell ammo, accessories or books or memorabilia.

Expanding on Point 2, according to the ATF, 93% of criminals obtain their guns – wait for it – illegally! Yes that’s right, criminals don’t obey the law. Who’d-a thunk it?

According to On the Front Line: Making Gun Interdiction Work, a Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (a.k.a. The Brady Campaign) survey of 37 police departments in large cities conducted in February 1998 (by way of Gun Facts ver. 6.0), ninety-five percent of metropolitan police departments do not believe gun shows are a problem. I think we can take it as a given that the Brady bunch did not try to inflate that number.

Expanding on Point 3) New York General Business Law – Article 39-DD – § 895-§ 897 (which took effect August 9, 2000) required NICS checks by all sellers on all purchases. In other words, New York has no gun show loophole! In fact, the current version of the law requires gun show operators to post signs at all entrances, all ticket sale locations and at least four places within the show to make sure that everyone knows the law. Unfortunately there were about ten people out there who weren’t paying attention.

A quick perusal of the interwebz showed me 35-plus gun shows scheduled from early-November 2011 to early-July 2012 (which, for the mathematically challenged among us, is 8 months…don’t laugh, I had to do it on my fingers). So after an eight month investigation, covering 35 or more gun shows, with hundreds of dealers and thousands of private sellers, Eric’s investigators, after spending who knows how much money and who knows how many investigative hours, found ten private individuals who sold a gun without a NICS check. And not a single dealer or show promoter who broke the law.

Translation: the Attorney General’s office turned up less than a dozen poor yutzes who were trying to offload grandpa’s rifle for a couple of bucks.

Were these folks silly for not checking out the applicable laws? Absolutely. Hell, I’ll even call them stupid for not looking into the legal requirements for selling a gun. The thing is, though, most people still believe that they actually have to do something bad in order to break the law. On top of that, the antis never tire of telling people that their ‘reasonable, common-sense’ gun laws won’t affect the law-abiding. Just the criminals. I’ll give you two guesses which class those ten people thought they belonged to just before the cuffs snapped on.

Let us now address the ‘bait-and-switch’ where Eric’s office announced they’d arrested ten gun sellers for not doing NICS checks; but the linked article (and a whole bunch of others that I’ve seen) say that ten gun dealers were arrested. See the difference? By conflating sellers with dealers the antis can justify tightening restrictions against FFLs (yet again) despite the fact that no FFL actually committed a crime.

Sen. Gillibrand’s Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2011 won’t be introduced until this coming week, but Representative McCarthy’s Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009 proposes up to 20 years in prison for ‘traffickers’, ups the ante for FFLs from one year in prison to three years for paperwork violations, and adds a new section of the law for “Cracking Down On High Risk Gun Dealers.” As always, the devil’s in the details, such as: “How exactly will the government determine who is a High Risk Dealer?”

At least once every year, the Attorney General shall identify licensed firearms dealers who have a heightened risk of firearms being diverted to criminal use based on criteria determined by the Attorney General which may include 2 or more of the following:

(A) Short time-to-crime for crime guns traced to a dealer.
(B) Incomplete crime gun trace results for firearms sold by a dealer.
(C) Significant or frequently reported firearm losses or thefts by a dealer.
(D) Violations of Federal firearms laws by a dealer.

And here’s the kicker:

(E) Any additional criteria determined by the Attorney General.
So we have set criteria to make the determination. Well, we have set criteria which may be used to make the determination. Okay, so we have some set criteria and one or more undefined criteria which may or may not be used to make the determination. So in fact this “definition” is one of the classic movable goal posts the antis are so fond of, which makes even more frightening the last sentence of the article:

In a significant change, the bill, for the first time, levies significant penalties on corrupt gun dealers.

Since the 1980s the antis have been trying to squeeze off the supply of guns by squeezing off the supply of gun dealers. Increasing fees, increasing paperwork, increasing penalties for paperwork violations, eliminating “kitchen table” dealers and so on. Now we have “significant penalties” threatened against FFLs for undefined violations of amorphous criteria, all because ten non-FFLs violated New York’s malum prohibitum gun sales law.

The country has gone from about 284,000 FFLs in 1993 to less than 56,000 today. We would be well advised to ferociously guard our few remaining dealers.

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