Bill Bernstein (courtey nydailynews.com)

“The ex-owner of the gun shop that sold the weapon used to shoot two city cops in a NYCHA stairwell says the public should blame the poison, not the peddler. ‘I have no responsibility for [the shootings],’ Bill Bernstein told the Daily News. ‘Once the gun leaves my shop I have no control over what people do,’ said the conservative Republican. ‘It seems like New York has a criminal problem as opposed to having gun problem,’ he clucked.” Clucked? I guess that tells you what you need to know about the Daily News. That and the photos they chose to illustrate the article. But their between-the-lines commentary does nothing to blunt Bernstein’s blunt response to their enquiry . . .

Bernstein, a Bronx-born, pro-gun Orthodox Jew and a graduate of the prestigious private Horace Mann School, wrote on Facebook that he offered his prayers to the injured officers.

But he said he “resents” any suggestion he did something wrong when he sold an unknown buyer five weapons in June 2010 from his Eastside Gun Shop in Tennesse.

“That’s simply wrong,” Bernstein said.

“Mind reading is not a requirement for this job. Neither is seeing into the future,” he said.

“I don’t know what’s in somebody’s mind.”  . . .

He said he didn’t remember the specific sale but was confident the buyer produced valid ID and passed a federal background check — because otherwise Bernstein would not have sold him any guns.

“Guns are used in illegal crimes all the time,” he noted.

According to the Daily News, Bernstein was “instrumental in the repeal of a Tennessee state law requiring thumbprints from weapons’ buyers.” He’s currently running for a seat in the Tennessee legislature. We wish him luck and award the plain-speaking Jew our Gun Hero of the Day award.

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90 Responses to Gun Hero of the Day: Bill Bernstein

  1. Is a Ford dealer responsible when they sell a car to someone who then gets drunk and does a hit and run?

    Hardware store sells a machete/hammer/ax to a customer who uses it to kill his wife. Who’s responsible?

    Need I go on?

    By the way. I like that shooty thing he’s pointing.

    • If I were staring down that barrel the last thing I would be thinking about is what make/model that “shooty thing” is, but on second glance it appears (to me) to be some sort of L-frame Smith & Wesson. Could be wrong.

      • It was a Smith&Wesson Model 19 snub. One of the nicest guns I’ve owned. I picked it specifically for that photo shoot and it appeared in an article in the Nashville Scene several years ago.

        • K-frame FTW! I wish my Mod.10 would shoot .357 mags, not that I would make a habit of it, but nice to have the capability.

        • I wish you could get your hands on some more of those Model 67 turn ins you had a while back. I bought two of them from you and cleaned them up. Some of my favorites in the safe.

          Drove up from Chattanooga on an “Extended Lunch Break” just for them.

          Bill – Glad to hear you are doing well.

        • I thought it looked familiar – my first Smith (which I never saw from this perspective) was a Model 19 with @ 4 inch barrel. Sweet.

    • Well, the Ford dealer is responsible for ensuring that the truck be titled to someone with a valid drivers license.

      And a bartender can theoretically be held accountable for a patron’s DUI if they served them liquor while they were visibly impaired. It’s rarely enforced but the spirit of the law is the same…

      Point is, we all have responsibilities to others within society and handing a gun (or 5) to someone who we suspect to be a “bad guy” is tantamount to enabling his criminality. And in truth, I think most of us here (…most) would think twice about selling a gun to someone who struck us as sketchy.

      • Actually, no, you don’t need a driver’s license to buy a truck if all you are going to do is drive it on your farm and never on a public roadway.

      • May your chains rest lightly…

        No, you don’t need a drivers license (or insurance) to buy or own an automobile. Or drive it at 100 miles an hour without wearing your seatbelt. And possibly drunk, depending on the state. Just so long as it’s on private property.

      • Actually a car dealer has no responsibility of selling to a licensed driver. I could own as many cars a I want without a license. I could even drive them, as long as it isn’t on public roads.

        • You could also drive them on public roads, at excessive speeds, without insurance, and it would have nothing to do with the dealer.

      • Well, notice the actual buyer in my shop was not the criminal. There was a 6 year gap between my selling the guns and the shooting this past weekend. The shooter isn’t someone I ever met and lived about 500 miles from me. Nor was he eligible to buy a gun, being a convicted felon.
        So what happened to the gun in those 6 years between the time it left my shop and the time Chavis used it to shoot the officers? No telling. It could have been stolen, sold, resold, traded etc 30 different times and gone through 50 different hands.
        What could i have done to prevent any of that? My buyer was 100% legitimate.

        • My only question for you, Bill, is why you did the interview. It’s almost unimaginable to me that you would get a fair hearing from the Daily News.

        • Because I don’t believe in hiding from the press. Generally the press has been pretty fair with me, I suspect because I explain myself well. The Daily News was the first org I’ve encounterd with a definite agenda. But it is so transparent it makes them look bad. If I were a black Muslim would they have written the story the same way? Doubtful.

      • And, of course, only people who seem outwardly sketchy go on to commit crimes or give guns to criminals. I, for one, am grateful it’s so easy to tell.

  2. But, I thought all Jews were anti-gun…

    If you think I need the sarcasm font, poke yourself in the eye.

  3. ” I guess that tells you what you need to know about the Daily News. That and the photos they chose to illustrate the article.”

    Where did that photo come from and why did he pose for it?!?

  4. ” “Guns are used in illegal crimes all the time,” he noted. ”

    You know you’re dealing with someone simultaneously New York born and unusually sentient, when he that matter-of-factly, perhaps even just subconsciously, recognizes the difference between the”illegal” crimes committed in that City, sometimes with guns, and the “legal” ones, which is the bread and butter of pretty much the whole town by now. And requires nothing in the way of a personally carried firearm.

  5. I just signed my wife up for the JPFO.
    Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership.
    How do you say (yee haw! In yiddish?)

  6. It’s awesome that he’s standing up. The Left is going to turn every case like this the front in the war on self defense.

    • As they should. Don’t you blame the hammer manufacturer when you bend a nail? (/sarc)

      I couldn’t find the sarc font either.

        • I actually bludgeoned the flesh right off the side of my thumb with a hammer once. Still have a scar. The pain was unbelievable. Those hammer manufacturers have a lot to answer for.

        • You should have sued the hammer manufacturer. There is no morally acceptable excuse for making hammers that can injure the user. Manufacturers know by now all the ways a hammer can be used, and they are guilty or depraved indifference, or reckless endangerment for not eliminating all the known actions that cause injury. The thing they should be immune from is using the hammer in an illegal manner to cause harm, damage or death. The manufacturers have deep pockets, and a few large settlements spread around should act as a wake-up call that we will not tolerate callow disregard for public safety.

    • I believe there are two different opinions on the meaning of “Never Again”.

      One group of Jews believes that mankind has progressed/advanced to the point that they would NEVER AGAIN permit/cause such an atrocity to happen, even though we see evidence to the contrary in the form of similar atrocities two or three times every year. This group sees no reason not to eliminate guns from private ownership (gun control), because they do not see the need for them in their fantasy utopian world.

      The other group knows that mankind is just as evil as it was back then. They do see the frequent evidence of that evil, and they know that only the constant vigilance of good men can prevent that kind of evil from returning again upon the Jewish people. For them, “NEVER AGAIN” is a vow or a rallying cry. They see the right to keep and bear arms as a responsibility (every Jew should be armed), because guns are the only thing that will allow them to fight back and prevent a repeat of the Holocaust.

      • Point taken, however…statistically Jews represent only @ 14 million persons worldwide (per Wikipedia). Even if every single Jew was effectively armed and prepared to take a stand per Never Again they will still and again need the help of good people all over the world.

        • Well, whether you end up taking the big dirt nap or not is irrelevant, really.

          If it comes down to facing genocide (from any quarter, against any group), it is every man’s responsibility to make the bastards earn it.

          They may kill you in the end, but you can be satisfied it was a good death when you’re found on top of a pile of spent brass, and there’s a bunch of dead assholes scattered in front of your position.

          It’s as much about fighting fiercely to the bitter end as it is about being ultimately victorious, because as you say, sometimes the math just ain’t on your side.

  7. I get a tingle every time I see a well-armed and determined Jew. Think Warsaw Ghetto. Never again is something that even the Gentiles should adopt.

    • What makes you think gentiles didn’t adopt such a thing but perhaps failed to give it a jazzy chant? I mean “never” isn’t a really catchy slogan. It’s hard to build any excitement about something when the only thing folks are rallying behind is the continuing absence of whatever it is they’re saying “never” about. You can’t even jazz it up at all. What are we going to jazz it up with “still never”, “further never”, “never, continuing days without”? As a slogan it just dies, it kicks its little feet up and joins the choir invisible.

      Gentiles practiced “never again” from day one which is why they’re still on “never”.

      The above is partially tongue in cheek. The rest of it is meant to poke friendly fun at a question which clearly wasn’t well thought out but might have been a joke I just didn’t get. Never can tell.

  8. Time for some background checks before buying alcohol. Abusive spouses, alcoholics, and those dangers to others should not be able to buy it.

  9. I’m not surprised the New York Daily News thinks the issue is blaming either the poison or the peddler, rather than blaming the poisoner. The way they see it, the problem is substances that are poisonous if ingested and those who sell them. They don’t blame the murderer who misuses the poisonous product with malicious intent. The use of common household cleaning products may save the lives of millions annually, but if these fools hear about a handful of people, especially children, poisoned with them, then they believe they can save a handful of lives by banning common household cleaning products. They can’t think a few steps ahead to see the lives they’re endangering. They have no understanding of what life was like before these lifesaving tools and the problems they solved.

  10. ” I guess that tells you what you need to know about the Daily News.”

    Where have you been for the past few months? The Daily News has degenerated into a far-left anti-gun, anti-Trump rag that has become so stupid that the NYT commended them.

    And the praise from the NYT tells me what I need to know about the Daily News.

  11. I don’t know the facts of this case, but I’ve seen dealers sell guns to people who were clearly straw buyers. They throw their hands up and say “Hey, if they pass the NICS, that’s all I’m responsible for. I’m not a mind reader.”

    Uh huh. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

    • Were I a gun dealer I would attempt to avoid sales to persons I believed might misuse the weapon. Then they would go down the street and buy from my competition, but I could sleep at night. Or they could file a civil rights case against me claiming I refused to serve them because they were gay or lesbian or Puerto Rican or some other protected class ans sue me for millions of dollars and put me out of business.

      Bottom line, the NICS is an unconstitutional infringement on the RKBA. The proprietor of any business should be free to sell legal products to whomever he pleases, and refuse sales on the same basis. The sole Constitutional means of dealing with bad actors who have or acquire firearms is for the good guys to gun them down the INSTANT they reveal themselves to have ill intent.

    • If you saw it and had proof of it and did nothing to stop it, then YOU are at least as liable for the crimes that came after as the dealer you so easily libeled just now.

      Oh, you DIDN’T have any evidence?

      Then stop telling the story in public like it’s true, ’cause it’s not.

    • I can tell you without reservation that this is simply not the case. I know Bill personally and have worked with him in the past. He is one of the most conscientious and morally upright individuals I know.

    • I have never seen that. I don’t argue it doesn’t happen–there are bad actors in every profession. But a dealer encountering an obvious straw buyer should assume it is an ATF sting and act appropriately. I certainly did. I can’t count the number of people I told GTFO and don’t come back when they tried that nonsense. Of course a straw buyer with 2 working brain cells could get around it because the dealer doesnt know what’s in the buyer’s mind.

      • Bill, you are so right about some of those ATF guys.

        I was standing at a counter at my LGS listening to a conversation as a guy first tried to buy a gun, and then asked about bringing his wife to buy it when NICS turned him down. The guy who was hanging around right behind the “buyer” is the only person I have ever seen in overalls so new or starched that they would hold a knife crease in the front (complete with a crisply ironed cuff and well shined wingtips). OK, maybe mister wingtip wasn’t ATF, but he followed the other guy out without a word when the guy behind the counter told him loudly that would be an illegal straw purchase and that he was calling 911 right now.

  12. I completely support the idea that what happens after a sale can’t be controlled by the seller but I have to ask: where are the 4473’s? Don’t you have to keep them 20 years by regulation?

    • I don’t know how this guy keeps his records, but in a lot of places, it is difficult to search for records by any metric except for firearm serial number, because that’s what is in the bound book that links everything together.

      The only way to search by name would be to go through every 4473 on file by hand and physically look.

      I doubt the guy could just be given the names of the crooks and come up with any kind of answer at all.

      Now if they gave him the make and serial number on the guns to trace, I’m certain he could come up with the paperwork (which he very likely did, for the cops, which is why he’s not being charged with anything).

      But then, jackass reporters can’t come up with actual pertinent information like that, and so they ask questions that either can’t be answered or have answers they’ll disregard on their way to publishing the story they already had written before their research started (if they even both to DO any research that is).

      • Well, if they didn’t have the serial numbers how did they know the guns used to shoot the 2 officers were part of a 5 gun buy at that store? I may be missing something though – it’s early.

        • ‘Cause the cops can and probably did tell them that much, but I doubt very seriously that the reporter either asked for or received the actual serial numbers of the guns in question from the police.

          You know how this works, especially with a police force that doesn’t like every citizen being able to buy a firearm.

          They will release bits of information that cannot be confirmed by the dealer who’s being smeared, so he’s left making blanket defenses that the reporter can then turn around and cast aspersions on.

          It’s a tag team effort to vilify a guy who is running a legal business and following the rules as they’re written.

          Don’t help them do that work by just assuming that the guy is crooked because he couldn’t produce a filled out 4473 for some reporter to look at while being interviewed ambush style.

    • Because I closed the shop in 2014 the records were returned to ATF, as per the law. In this case, because the guns were sold on a Report of Multiple Sales form the ATF already had the sale in its database. When NYPD ran a trace request the information came up immediately.

    • I think I am missing the question. WTF is a retained 4473 supposed to do? Will the gun not kill innocents as long as there is a 4473 somewhere? If the dealer retained the 4473 for 100 years, instead, would we be safer somehow? Does the incident demonstrate that the 4473 was not retained? The 4473 is only good for recording inane information to prosecute you with, to process the NICS check. The NICS check is useless, therefore all we’re left with is inane information to prosecute someone with, and proving a straw sale 6 years later isn’t worth even a phone call, for the buyer to say “”I sold that a long time ago”, or “I don’t remember”, after chasing down his name through 3 moves in 2 states. Who needs to be prosecuted has not changed in 2000 years, the guy who caused the death, not the guy who passed him on the street.

  13. It seems to me there are some facts being left out or ignored in the Daily News article. If they know the gun came from his shop, then they know whom it was sold to. That leaves us with three possibilities:

    1. The shooter himself was the buyer, thus showing how a career criminal had no problem passing a background check.

    2. The shooter was a trafficker intentionally passing guns to criminals, in which case why are they hassling the dealer instead of prosecuting the trafficker?

    3. The original buyer was, in fact, a law-abiding person from whom the guns were stolen, in which case how can you remotely claim the dealer did anything wrong?

    • It seems to me they know the guns were delivered to this store by the manufacturer or the wholesaler) but not necessarily the retail buyer. Not without the 4473’s anyway. That was my original thought – where the heck are they?

      • Like I said before, I expect that the showed the 4473’s to the cops.

        Just because he doesn’t present them for inspection to the anti-gun reporter does not mean that they don’t exist or that nobody has ever seen them.

        It just means that the reporter didn’t get to see them and/or that he caught the guy out and about where he couldn’t produce names off top of his head. Which, BTW, he’s under no obligation to do.

        Lord knows I wouldn’t go shuffling through my customer records for some reporter, and I sure as hell wouldn’t let him see paperwork with customer identity information on it.

        They may not be medical records, but 4473’s got just almost as much information on them. No way I’d want an FFL to go showing those forms to just anyone.

        • Ahhh. I was basing my question on it being true that he didn’t know who the buyer was, not from the slant of a rag like the NYDN.

      • They know it was one in a sale of five guns, so clearly they had a record of the retail sale, not just of the distributor/wholesaler/manufacturer.

    • ..
      4. The guns were lawfully sold to any number of legal buyers on the secondary (legal) market. At some point, they ended up in the wrong hands, but background checks would not have prevented that, because criminals.

      • Which makes NICS originally and deliberately useless. Like 30.06 signs! And now (TA-DA!) 30.07 signs. All of which are designed to prevent the necessity for prosecuting people under ancient and outmoded laws like those against murder.

  14. We a buyer buys 2 or more handguns in a 7 day period, a separate form is required and the gun dealer sends it to both local law enforcement and the fbi. Shouldn’t one of those organizations look into the purchase of 5 guns at one time. I have many guns. I have only bought two handguns once, because they were rare and a good deal at a gun store because I don’t want that form sent to my local police.

    • If ATF looked into every multiple handgun purchase they would need an army. I realize to New Yorkers it looks odd for someone to buy 5 handguns. But it happens all the time.
      In any case, had the done so, what would they have found? The buyer was legally entitled to purchase them and own them. He passed the background check so he was obviously not a criminal.
      The only time I ever heard of them investigating was when a buyer went around buying up 9mm Beretta M9s, as many as he could, only that gun, on a regular basis. That was so odd it warranted investigation and indeed he was funneling them to Mexican drug cartels. The ATF caught him and prosecuted him because they don’t like competition.

    • HA! Try this. I was reading this post and thinking to myself, “I might very well find a handgun (or rifle, for that) that I thought was really wonderful, and buy one for each member of my family.” Then it struck me, under this stupid-ass law, doing that might make me a felon. Moronic. If I buy each of my family a new car, and one of them runs over someone 6 years later, am I a felon?

    • During the Newtown panic, I bought multiple firearms…because they could all be done on the same background check and the delay was nine days.

  15. Sounds like Bill Bernstein has his head screwed on tightly. I wish that were more common amongst his co religionists.

    Hell, I wish it were mere common. period.

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