With the new legislative session starting up in Austin, Texas comes a wave of new bills. Some are expected relaxations of the restrictions on Texans’ constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, but not all are so gun friendly. One new proposal aims to specifically “close the gun show loophole” by requiring background checks, but only for sales at gun shows.

The bill, HB259 filed by Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), makes it a Class A misdemeanor for one person to transfer a firearm to another person without a background check unless the person is a peace officer or has a concealed carry license. It’s an obvious and direct attempt to “close the gun show loophole” as the Democrats have been demanding nationally for years, but the way the bill is constructed shows that the author has absolutely no idea about the existing gun laws and how gun shows work and instead is just trying to get some headlines and win political points.

Here in Texas, it is 100% legal for one individual to sell a firearm to another individual without a background check as long as they reasonably believe that the buyer is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. No background checks are required and no transfer records are required to be maintained. I’ve personally used this legality to sell firearms to individuals in all sorts of places, from HEB parking lots to my own couch. The one place I’ve never actually sold a firearm is a proper gun show. It’s true that private collectors can set up shop at a gun show and sell their firearms without a background check, but requiring background checks at this one location is like trying to bail out a sinking Titanic using a teacup. It doesn’t address the perceived problem and simply shifts the activity to a different and less tightly monitored location.

Another issue is when a private individual wants to sell a gun to a gun dealer. I’ve seen plenty of cases where a person will be walking around a gun show with their existing firearm and will trade it to a dealer for a good price on a newer upgraded version. The way the law is written, that individual would have to perform a background check on the gun dealer before the sale can go through. That seems like a pretty idiotic and backwards situation.

Finally there’s the cost. The law would require that the gun show organizer provide a person who can perform these background checks for unlicensed individuals. That’s a more competently written law than the one in Nevada, but it doesn’t set a price for the background check service. Theoretically an organizer can make that rate so prohibitively expensive that private sellers are driven out of the gun show and unable to conduct business.

In short, the law is too narrow to actually make a difference and has unintended side effects which would hurt lawful commerce in Texas. That sounds like the definition of a terrible bill to me.

44 Responses to Texas Legislator Introduces Bill to Require Background Checks for Gun Sales at Gun Shows

  1. “In short, the law is too narrow to actually make a difference and has unintended side effects which would hurt lawful commerce in Texas. That sounds like the definition of a terrible bill to me.”

    When I saw the ‘D’ after his name, I didn’t even need to read the rest of the article to figure that out.

  2. Texas, what the hell? You need Voter ID to shut down the voter base of the moron that introduced this bill.

      • The state is getting more and more conservative, not less. There is not a single statewide elected democrat in Texas. It wasn’t that way 20 years ago.

        • Speaking as an (very) ex-Californian, CHL holder and a political libertarian leaning moderate centrist, may it ever remain that way so long as the Republicans expand individual liberties in Texas.

          Also, very good to see the embrace of industries of all types relocating here: software/IT type poaching from Silicon Valley, manufacturing, energy, insurance/banking, transportation, etc. I embrace diversity, especially in the scope of employment opportunities in the state. 😀

      • The the judges need to be forced into retirement under threat of being thrown into a windowless cell on board a prison ship.

        What? If they are going to throw out/ignore the Constitution for us why should we not do the same for them?

  3. Of course it’s not going to stop criminals from getting any guns, not when private sales are so easy to make. And give them this, now they’re just going to go “That didn’t work. Now we need to restrict private sales!” and then you get into completely unenforceable nonsense like what you have in Washington.

    But let’s say you require a background check on “All gun sales” and that does not stop anything. Then they’re going to go “That didn’t work! We need gun registration so we can hold people accountable for selling to criminals!”

    That is gun control. It’s a bunch of “That didn’t work. We need to take it farther.” while telling you “We’re not going to take it THAT far. All we want is this next step.”

  4. I am not a tin-foil hat type, but it is obvious that requiring all gun sales to have a background check with the NICS systems is de facto gun registration. It gives the government a database of who owns what guns. The ATF is not supposed to keep those records for that purpose, but the GAO accused them of doing just that in a recent audit.

    If we can repeal GCA ’68, we should. If that is not possible, we need a “blind” background check system that only says a buyer is OK to buy a gun for a certain time period. It does not record which guns he bought or how many.

      • In Washington, slot machines are ran by servers that use a system that is effectively blind. The servers keep a database of results that if the Table is viewed, the Table is erased, and a new one is generated, rendering the original table useless. They do this as a security measure. This is a very simplified explanation. Something similar could be made I would think. A database could be kept, where the information wether/when someone has done something to disqualify them from buying a firearm, that data could be entered into the Table. When a query is made against the Table for a go/no go result the system would send the appropriate response with no details. If anyone tried to access any specific data from the table, the system would wipe it.

      • Set up a .gov internet site. Someone who wishes to buy a gun creates a unique password. By inputting one’s name, dob, and government ID number (driver’s license number maybe, so name can be compared to face) PLUS the password created one receives a simple result from the .gov site: “YES, this person can be sold a gun” or “NO, this person may not be sold a gun (contact the following phone number if this is you to find out why)” or “HOLD” in which case the normal hold takes place.

        With this system one can check one’s own status or, if you give the password (plus your name etc) to a potential seller they can check it as well. You or they can print out a confirmation that, on a certain date, a check was made and found to be good to go (you can do this regardless of whether you purchased a gun)- this way they can prove they used the system if it ever becomes an issue. No serial number of the gun is sent to the government, nor are they even sure a sale actually took place.

        It’s not something I WANT, but it would be a system I would be willing to deal with… if I got something in return. National reciprocity, pre-emption of state laws against guns in general, unfuck the NFA, etc.

        • I have a better idea.

          If I want a gun, I go to academy and buy it. Or buy from an individual. Or western auto. No background check. No data base.

          Criminals can already buy a gun if they want. Why should it be harder for me to buy than them? 😉

        • Okay, and I’d like a unicorn but I’m not going vegan until I get one.

          I’d much rather deal with the process I outlined than the current mess. No state should have to use it, but it would be much better (and cheaper) than the current mess with NICS.

      • Linked is an article on the BIDS system that was proposed back in 2001 and continuously since. It is cheaper, simpler, faster and more reliable than NICS, but it would meet the legal requirements. To oversimplify it, a list of prohibited buyers is published by the Feds and can be accessed by FFLs. If you’re not on the list, you’re OK to buy. No reporting of the sale itself.
        http://www.gunlaws.com/BIDSvNICS.htm

  5. As another poster pointed out on another thread this is likely redundant because under the new BATFE rules it would seem that an FFL won’t be able to run a NICS check at the show which kinda kills the whole point of the show.

    (Props to Rick the Bear for pointing that out).

  6. That Rafael Chinchilla guy is getting on my nerves. He won’t be happy until Texas is as protective of the rights of its citizens as Mexico is of theirs.

  7. It just shows how out of touch some politicians are. Last year, here in Virginia, after it became obvious the AG and Governor’s attempt to outlaw out of state concealed carry permits was going to be easily overturned, they worked out a compromise that the Governor bragged about and claimed it would help with the “gun show loophole”. In return for recognizing all out of state carry permits, the state of Virginia would supply a state trooper at all gun shows to run voluntary background checks on anyone who requested one. Last I heard, I think it had been used twice at the cost is $2 each. Imagine how much that compromise has cost and will continue to cost the state.

    • I use gun shows to handle firearms I might buy without wasting the time of a salesman at the LGS. Sometimes, I find an interesting one that the LGS doesn’t stock. One example was a 50-year-old Hi Power with adjustable sights and a very nice trigger. (The magazine disconnect had been removed.) I didn’t even ask the price because I was still in the search phase of acquiring a 9 mm pistol.

  8. Well It really doesn’t matter how it’s written. The laws chances of passing are somewhere between hell freezing over and Hillary Clinton making a porno with Diane Feinstein that doesn’t gross people out.

  9. Universal background checks in Illinois. And NOTHING changed. Except the law abiding (like ME) are inconvenienced. Crime sure as hell didn’t decrease in Chiraq. End of rant…

  10. Man, Democrats are such scum. Yet, we will never be safe until we reclaim the martial aspect of the right and repeal all mala prohibita associated with it. Even then vigilance will be required.

  11. I thought we already had NICS checks at gun shows when licensed dealers are involved. Licensed dealer are 99% of the firearm sellers at gun shows, so what am I missing? lol

    Charlie

  12. I’m missing the same thing, Charlie. I’ve been to the gun shows in the Dallas area several times in the last couple of years, and haven’t found a gun that wasn’t being sold by an FFL dealer. At least not to my liking, and especially within my price range. Oh, it must be able to shoot, too.

    Out of about twenty trips, we’ve bought two pistols. We were asked if we were interested in selling one we just bought before we left. No.

  13. Hi all, I’m a new poster to TTAG. I am a medical student who is interested in the issue of firearm fatalities. I am training in an academic medical center where the conversation about firearm-related injuries and mortality tends to lean left, which is to say that the views I’m learning about in the comments on this site are underrepresented around me. It seems to me that folks who own and are passionate about guns wouldn’t be opposed to seeing less people die as a result of firearm injuries, and it makes sense to me to approach gun violence from a public health framework (that is, trying to study how such deaths happen and then proposing measures to prevent those deaths).

    However, I’m here to admit that I am not a part of the gun community but am genuinely seeking to learn where you all think folks in the medical/public health community who are interested in reducing gun-related deaths are going wrong. I think our society can do better than 33,000 deaths from firearm-related injuries annually and am looking to learn how to advance that view in a way that helps everyone rally around finding ways to get us there.

    In your view, is there any preventative role whatsoever for firearm regulation? If regulation is a nonstarter, what are some actionable ideas that folks on “both sides” of this issue should be able to rally around based on the shared interest of seeing less deaths? Should the emphasis instead be on improving technology (such as the developments that have contributed to automobile safety)? Something else?

    I’ll be posting under a few posts in hopes that someone will see and respond. Please don’t take it as spam or a false flag. Thanks in advance for your engagement, folks.

    • 1) Murders / violence where guns are used is a (complicated) crime problem, NOT a medical one. Belongs to the justice department.

      2) Suicides where guns are used IS something of a medical issue, though the gun issue is secondary to whatever is making the person want to die- depression, etc. Yes, suicide could be made more difficult by restricting guns but:
      – Such restrictions would have to be onerous to make a large impact
      – Such restrictions would run afoul of the Constitution

      3) Accidents. Medical in nature in the same way that backyard pool accidents are. Some ways to help without restricting rights of gun owners:
      – Encourage, perhaps through rebates, the purchase of a gun safe to provide some safety against a child gaining access to a firearm
      – Encourage training in gun safety- when I was younger we used to have optional classes in the school where we would fire small rifles and learn how they worked and why we needed to be careful.

      There is great skepticism among gun owners about government-funded or backed studies because politics and government is too intertwined. In effect, there’s no confidence that someone coming to the table doesn’t have an axe to grind. Part of the problem is that we have seen what gun control groups do to twist statistics (example: the ‘school shooting’ statistics are a joke because the definitions used are made to encompass anything) and ‘gun violence’ stats often include suicides… as if suicides are the same as murder in terms of what policies we should be making.

      • Hannibal — wow. Thanks very much for this reply. Responding in order:

        1. I disagree slightly here, which is to say that I think anything that causes poor health/injuries/death on a large scale should be the concern of the public health to the extent that it affects the health of the public. This includes things that are overtly “medical”, such as diet and exercise, as well as other things that are less so, such as deaths by automobile accidents, for example.

        2. This is a really important point that I hadn’t considered. I’ve been focused on the fact that regulations *could* prevent suicides, but the point here is that the kinds of regulations required to effect a large-scale change would be intolerable infringements on civil liberties. In this view, the 22,000 or so annual gun suicide deaths are certainly considered unfortunate and worthy of mourning, but are ultimately an unintended consequence of maintaining necessary civil liberties.

        3. Great point about encouraging safety. On the left, the failure to promote gun safety education — in effect, an “gun abstinence education” agenda — is discordant with the criticism of abstinence education regarding sex.

        Your last point is also a truly valuable one. Anyone who even uses the term “gun violence” and uses the 33,000 statistic reveals themselves as uninformed about the concerns of gun owners. Simple point, but such a blind spot for so many. Beyond that, skepticism of government-backed studies is valid if you take the view that scientists are out to prove a pre-determined conclusion. The tough thing is that even if you as a scientist are committed to objectivity, it’s hard to find funding for research apart from the government (NIH, etc). Is there any data-producing entity that gun owners would trust the conclusions of?

        • “Is there any data-producing entity that gun owners would trust the conclusions of?”
          We actually trust a lot of data out of the NIH. It was the NIH data that proved defensive gun uses far outweigh criminal uses, and that death by firearms are on the decline, and have been so for decades. We generally trust the BLS and the NICS check data, both of which show us there are more firearms than ever in the US, and that the number of people lawfully buying them is steadily increasing, rapidly in some states.
          We also pay close attention to the UCR and the NCVS, both of which are imperfect, but they are the best data we have on violence stats across the nation.
          More than anything, we trust what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears.
          And that, as a physician, is what you should be focusing on. As someone who has treated patients on five continents now, please listen when I say that if you aren’t individual patient focused, you are wrong. All of your answers about how we can stop death by firearms will be answered by the patients you see, if you are paying attention. The God complex of too many MDs, especially young ones, often prevents them from doing that.

    • I’m not a medical professional, but I do have some opinions on the matter. As far as accidental death or injury is concerned, I think a huge part of the problem is this: a lack of common sense and education, and too many lawyers. In the “olden days”, parents taught their kids proper gun safety. Guns and gun owners weren’t the social pariahs they have become in recent decades. If someone did something stupid and got themselves hurt or killed, people just shook their heads and took it as an object lesson in what NOT to do. The “half-cock” notch on a gun with an exposed hammer was considered to be an adequate “safety device” when coupled with common sense handling procedures. Now, if someone does something stupid, and that individual gets hurt or killed (or someone else is hurt or killed), the first thing the idiot (or the survivors) does is go off and find a lawyer and see how much money the manufacturer can be sued for, for selling an “unsafe device”. More and more redundant “safety devices” get added to newly manufactured guns for the sole purpose of keeping the lawyers at bay, but those additional devices are also used, incorrectly, as a replacement for common sense. Folks who have limited experience with firearms tell themselves, “Oh, it has a safety, so it’s okay” – then they do something dumb (like leaving it loaded where a child can find it), and eventually another tragedy happens that could have been prevented if common sense had been applied FIRST.
      Another problem, as I see it, is an overabundance of national media publicity when localized tragedies happen. To the media, “If it bleeds, it leads”. Tragedy draws the attention of the masses. So if some disaffected loser decides to get “revenge” on society, either because of real or imaginary wrongs done to him, or because society doesn’t go along with his religious beliefs, the media trumpets it all over the papers and airwaves. Then, some other loser who wants attention sees all the attention the past tragedies gained, and copycats the event to give people “something to remember him by”. Evil craves attention, and thrives on it. Those who hate guns and despise gun owners take advantage of the media attention as well, “waving the bloody shirt” and acting as though relatively rare events (compared to the total population of gun owners) are a sign that ALL guns must be banned because somehow ALL gun lovers are potentially drooling, trigger-happy maniacs. The backlash often ends up being a disarmed populace (for those who are afraid enough of the consequences of disobeying the laws to turn in or neuter their guns) and an empowered criminal population (because the balance of power is shifted in their favor, since they have little or no fear of the consequences of not turning in their guns or of using them to get what they want, whether it’s loot, attention, or revenge, or even earning a place in paradise by killing “infidels”). Any law-abiding citizen who loudly disagrees with the “feel-good” regulations is immediately branded a “gun nut” or a “right-wing nutcase with no consideration for public safety”. With guns and gun owners being treated as pariahs, gun safety education in terms of safe gun handling dwindles, as does common sense, and it goes full circle.

  14. First and foremost: stupid law.

    Secondly, when I look at guns on Armslist or Texas Gun Trader, I would say a good 90% of private sales already say they won’t sell to someone without a CHL/LTC anyway.

    Oh wow, look at that, no government intervention and the people take it upon themselves to be responsible anyway. Amazing. It’s almost like we don’t need some asshat with a pen and a phone intervening in every aspect of our PRIVATE lives and business.

  15. I only sell guns to people I have known and hunted with. That I know are trustworthy. Any guns I buy on gunbroker must be shipped to an FFL. The “Gangsters” in Chicago are the ones the Dems should go after. But like going to a union meeting, open your mouth, and they throw you out. The “Snitches lie in ditches” keeps the gang members safe. So write a law making them talk. Will do as much good. Like the black single mothers I’ve worked with say, “You can raise your daughters, but the streets will raise your boys”! That’s how it really is. Until they change their society, they will live with 800 homicides a year. It’s their problem, and I can’t solve it. Nor will any words written on paper (Laws).

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