As we reported earlier, a group of anti-civil rights activists styled as the States United to Prevent Gun Violence opened up a “gun store” in New York City recently. The salesperson behind the counter (an actor) showed various kinds of firearms to prospective customers while informing them of notable crimes that had been committed with each particular model. Does it sound like the gun control crowd is getting desperate? Even the generally pro-gun control Huffington Post acknowledged that the story and video were “a change of tactics for the gun control lobby, which has lost a series of high-profile battles in state and local legislatures” . . .
Beyond the rather odd spectacle, however, the question has been raised about what laws might have been violated by the group producing the video. Although not all of the facts are known (the video presented is less than four minutes long and mostly focuses on what the salesperson behind the counter is saying,) there are myriad ways in which they may have been violating local firearms laws and ordinances. Here are just a few examples.
It’s unclear whether or not the owner of the pretend ‘store’ actually had an FFL. The video pretty clearly shows the salesman showing numerous firearms that he is apparently representing as the real deal, including a “9mm submachinegun” to patrons of the store.
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
Although the law doesn’t specify how much ‘time, attention, and labor’ are necessary to qualify here, I suspect that opening up a storefront (and keeping up a website) might be enough. Certainly the sort of thing that a prosecutor intent on enforcing gun laws regardless of motivation might pay attention to.
In addition, New York City is so intent on limiting civilian ownership of guns that under New York City Administrative Code Section 10-131, the city has imposed serious controls on the sale and possession of even replicas of firearms.
g. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sell, possess [sic] or use or attempt to use or give away, any toy or imitation firearm which substantially duplicates or can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm unless:
(a) the entire exterior surface of such toy or imitation firearm is colored white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern; or
(b) such toy or imitation firearm is constructed entirely of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the imitation or toy firearm’s complete contents; and
(c) the barrel of such toy or imitation firearm, other than the barrel of any such toy or imitation firearm that is a water gun, is closed with the same material of which the toy or imitation firearm is made for a distance of not less than one-half inch from the front end of said barrel, and;
(d) such toy or imitation firearm has legibly stamped thereon, the name of the manufacturer or some trade name, mark or brand by which the manufacturer can be readily identified; and
(e) such toy or imitation or firearm does not have attached thereto a laser pointer, as defined in paragraph one of subdivision a of section 10-134.2 of this code.
The New York City Administrative Code states that the above will not apply to toys or imitation firearms used “only for or in the production of television programs or theatrical or motion picture presentations, provided, however, that such use of any toy or imitation firearm complies with all applicable laws, rules or regulations concerning request and receipt of waivers authorizing such use….”
At the very least, it appears that States United To Prevent Gun Violence would have needed to obtain such a waiver if they were using toys or replica firearms in their little exercise in agitprop. If they actually had real firearms available — which is what their companion website, gunswithhistory.com purports — they could be in for some serious time in the federal pen. Someone dealing in machine guns (if that’s really what that was) without a license, for instance, could be subject to a fine of $10,000 and 10 years in a federal prison.
Of course, it’s highly doubtful that these folk will be prosecuted for any possible crimes committed. Given the political stance of the powers that be in the Big Apple, they no doubt fall under the David Gregory “guns laws are only for little people” exemption. Nor is this intended to be an endorsement of any such prosecution.
I am a strong supporter of both the Second Amendment as well as the First; if a group of people want to waste their time and money making fools of themselves and aren’t hurting anyone else, in my judgment, that’s their right. The irony here is that in this case, the fools of which we speak at SUPGV risk running afoul of the very laws they support while trying to exercise their right to freedom of speech.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece, and is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice on this subject, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel.