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There’s news today that Eduardo Sencion, the gunman that opened fire on an IHOP in Carson City, used a Norinco MAK-90 AK clone which was modified to fire fully automatic for his rampage. Carson City’s Sherriff said in a statement issued today that “The alteration was described by ATF as professionally gunsmithed by an unknown person.” The gun made its way to Mr. Sencion through a face-to-face transfer, skipping background checks and making tracing the gun slightly more difficult. This is starting to look like the Brady Campaign’s manna from heaven…

This is the Holy Grail for gun control advocates. We have:

  • An assault rifle (AK-47 no less)
  • Available for purchase in almost every state
  • “Easily” modified to be a machine gun
  • Purchased by a mentally ill person
  • Purchased using the “gun show loophole”
  • Used to murder U.S. Troops in public
  • Using two high capacity magazines

The only thing it’s missing is a homemade silencer. It’s so perfect that, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d almost say that the Brady Campaign was behind it. But I’m not that crazy.

Looking at the facts in evidence it’s hard to argue against closing off private party transfers. I love selling my used guns out of the trunk of my car in a Wal-Mart parking lot as much as the next red blooded American (the strange looks make it so much more fun), but what we’re looking at right here is undeniable proof that the worst case scenario can happen with that policy. And thanks to the private party sale there’s five years where the ownership of this firearm is unknown and untraceable, so we may never know who did the FA conversion. If we knew the gun’s provenance we might be able to nab the person who sold him the gun and the person who converted the gun, but now it’s a long shot.

There’s no word from the Brady Campaign or MAIG about this yet, but who wants to take bets which one will have a press conference first?

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  1. “Looking at the facts in evidence it’s hard to argue against closing off private party transfers.”

    You mean except that Second Amendment thingy?

    • Or the fact that they’re absolutely impossible to police without a national gun registry?

      Or that anyone who sells a full-auto AK to someone with nothing but a “sure I have the necessary forms to own a full auto weapon” doesn’t give two shits for what’s legal?

    • Second amendment states “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.” So where does private party transfers come in?

      You can argue whether the milita part is necessary. But even if you say a private individual, not in a milita, can have a gun (or guns). This does not automatically lead to you having no checks and no regulations. You are arguing in contrary to the constitution.

  2. “Looking at the facts in evidence it’s hard to argue against closing off private party transfers.”

    No it’s not. This was an illegal full auto, modified in violation of NFA’34 and sold on the black market. Legitimate private party transfers are irrelevant to what happened here and making this double plus ungood illegal wouldn’t have prevented anything.

  3. “It’s so perfect that, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d almost say that the Brady Campaign was behind it”.

    Can’t we call “Fast & Furious” a conspiracy that did occur? Anything is possible. Arrogant self-righteous extremists can rationalize that taking an immoral action that goes against their stated values is fine if it contributes to a greater good. No, I do not believe that the Brady Bunch orchestrated the attack.

    • That cuts both ways – there are plenty of right wing radicals who could do stuff to provoke the desired reaction. Don`t think militancy or self-righteousness is the purview of just one side.

      • Really Mike? Golly, I would never have reached such insight on my own.

        You’re out of your league kid. Go back to MSNBC, Huffington Post, or wherever your friends are drinking the cool aid.

  4. “This is the Holy Grail for gun control advocates. We have:…”

    Am I wrong (I’ve never bothered to get very familiar with Cali gun laws) but isn’t it also the version that’s, supposedly, less prone to mass murder with it’s lack of assault rifle features making it Cali legal.

    • Nope: Thats not CA legal: The big deal is the pistol grip, that would be counted AS a pistol grip because of how the thumb goes through the stock. So its not “featureless”

      Also, the Norenco MAC-90 is listed by name, so it can’t be made “featureless” (no pistol grip etc) nor fixed-magazine (“Bullet Button” or similar, where the magazine can be removed with a tool) to get around the CA assault weapons ban.

      Not to mention the >10 round magazine is illegal to buy, manufacture, or import. The only way to legally have that in CA is to have bought it prior to 2000 (and manufactured prior to 1995).

  5. So… a criminal intent on performing a criminal act, may have been involved in a criminal act, prior to his criminal act.


  6. “Looking at the facts in evidence it’s hard to argue against closing off private party transfers.”

    You’re kidding, right? There are thousand upon thousands of perfectly legal face-to-face gun sales every year, and you want to throw out the baby with the bathwater because one went bad? One illegal sale of an illegal firearm went bad, and you want to jump right into the gungrabber cesspool? Who are you, and what have you done to our beloved and formerly sane Foghorn?

  7. I may need a flame suit but here goes anyway……

    Heller said there can be limits, they were not clear what they are and we may find out soon enough when the recent case in DC goes to SCOTUS (if it does). Even the first amendment has limits (.e.g you cannot scream fire in crowded movie theater when there is no actual fire and causing panic and possible injury; there limits on certain words on TV, etc.)

    I am ok with removing the “Gun Show Loop-hole” and a National Gun registry (the govt. knows more about me than I want them to know, adding my guns which the local and state PD already know about makes no difference), provided the following also happen: 1) a single federal standard for gun permits 2) the ability to CCW across state lines and 3) a single federal standard for what is and is not considered legal for magazines and weapons. I actually have others but the jist is there should be a uniform set of rules/laws that are valid in all 50 states. What we have now is just silly.

    You can take the hard line and say there should be no limits, but then that just plays to the gun grabbers and the IHOP shooting is fuel to their fire, or you can have middle of the road more centered and rational laws that are national so some poor legally carrying person does not go to jail because one city in one state has to be different and you are required to know all nuances of all laws in every freak’n state.

    I want my guns and I want to use them, at the same time I want to make it difficult for criminals without taking away my rights — I believe you CAN have a balance and no I am not smart enough to know what that is, but I believe too many discussion focus on all or nothing when it comes to guns and 2a

    • +1 – a balanced approach – hallelujah
      You will only need a flame suit if people are intolerant of differing views. That would be very un-American.

      • Pointing out that someone is wrong is intolerant now? Why are you so intolerant of logic and rational thought? Criminals like the one in this article are already breaking multiple laws, piling on more laws won’t change their mind. Laws only restrict the law-abiding.

    • FIRE!

      The whole “fire in a movie theater” thing always bothered me. I get the premise – you yell fire in a crowded theater and someone(s) could get hurt trying to get out. It seems to me an all to convenient way for people (governments) to get away with abridging our rights.

      I just read the 1A again to be sure – it makes not mention of not being able to yell fire in a theater. So why is this argument that is used as a justification to take away our freedom used so often? I’m sure it leads back to some SCOTUS ruling that I don’t remember, and I’m currently too lazy to research. In any case even if it does when did we decide that the SCOTUS is always right?

      I believe that we all have the right to free speech – up to and including yelling “fire” in a theater. It’s certainly not a responsible thing to do and If someone is injured as a result of someone yelling “fire” in a theater than they should be held responsible for the injuries. But the act of yelling “fire” is not in and of itself wrong. Should you be arrested for yelling “fire” in a theater if nothing happens?

      I think we have the right to say whatever we want, up to and including hateful or “dangerous things”. The idea that I could say something and then get blamed for someone else’s actions because of what I said is idiotic. When did we decided that people are not responsible for their own actions? Where in the 1A does it say that you can blame a person for what another does?

      I believe the goal of the constitution was to grant absolute freedom. If it was not then I don’t think it would have been written the way it was. I don’t think the Framers were inept. If they intended to outlaw yelling “fire” in theaters I think they would have written that in.

      The same goes for the 2A – it protects an intrinsic absolute freedom of the People to keep and bear arms. The only regulation the 2A speaks of is for the militia (i.e. the military) not the People. I think the only sane regulation you can foster from the 2A for the People is that they have the right to keep and bear arms. Bear, that is to carry, seems to grant some power to regulate, or make illegal, arms that cannot be held by a single person. Even then, it’s a stretch.

      You talk about middle ground and I say – compromise on Constitutional issues leads to loss of freedom. We are either free, or we are not. I want to be free.

      Laws and regulations do not prevent crime – if someone whats to get an illegal firearm and commit an illegal act with that illegal firearm they are going to do it regardless of the legality. Laws do not prevent crime.

      Sencion intended to kill. If you think that closing loopholes or making this or that illegal would have stopped him, your diluted. It’s already illegal to kill, or harm people, the method that you use – gun, knife, or causing a stampede by yelling “fire” – is peripheral, almost irrelevant.

      If Sencion had run a car through the IHOP would you be advocating a ban on private sales of cars?

      • +1 Adam. The case of Schenck v. United States, where Holmes injected the “fire in a crowded theater” nonsense, was wrongly decided then and is not the law now. We laughed at it in law school as it was clearly the work of 19th century minds trying to decide a 20th century case. Fortunately, the case was later overruled, but the bogus dictum is still quoted ad nauseum by those who do not understand that it is not the law.

      • “If Sencion had run a car through the IHOP would you be advocating a ban on private sales of cars?”
        It’s funny you say that, two weeks ago in the town I live in some drunk asshole ran his car in to a bar and killed three people, including a US Airmen (or Airwomen, not sure if the titile is changed depending on sex.)

  8. I don’t think someone who was willing to modify the rifle for FA would have given two shits about obliterating the serial number or making the gun otherwise untraceable and selling it face to face. Background checks would probably not have stopped this.

  9. One problem; As others have semi-stated in their posts. Even if we, the nation, passed limitations on face to face transfers between individuals (Requiring the buyer and seller to use the services of a FFL dealer and their Insta-All-Problems-Solved background check) it wouldn’t have prevented what happened at IHOP.

    From what I understand, in this article and elsewhere, the weapon was illegally modified and sold to an individual who did not have the proper permissions to own such a modified weapon (so illegally transfered between owners). If we take these two facts at face value can anyone say with a straight face that the illegal modifier of the gun and the buyer of an illegal gun would have abided by a law requiring they go to an FFL and have a background check run?

    The shooter here was as likely to go to an FFL dealer and have a background check as a gang member is (let’s all rememeber there was a reason he didn’t go to a gun store in the first place).

  10. Outlawing face to face sales without background checks only serves to make another legal activity illegal. Which we all now works really well. It will not eliminate face to face purchases by anyone, or mass shootings, it will simply make more criminals. Or make someone a criminal three times over instead of just twice, when they commit a crime. Seems to me we have enough laws designed to make otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals. I think we could do without this one. And, thanks to the current state of public opinion, we probably don’t have to worry about it.

  11. Not to defend my criminal populace but I live in a neighborhood where illegal gun transactions go on all the time. Most of them do not end in a shooting spree. Simplest way to put it. Not saying criminals deserve free reign or to defend the law breakers but you are taking something that is already illegal three ways and blaming the face to face sales system, which the mass majority of the time legal or not does not lead to a public atrocity. Even criminals look for something to gain and the majority are not looking to be showered in lead from local police and SWAT teams. That transaction is one very rate compared to the norm and is exceptional in the fact that a full auto modification was insisted upon and that he then went on to endanger the general populace.

    Common street guns are stolen handguns, not AKs that are professionally modified to go full automatic fire. Used typically for armed robbery not mass carnage (with a Hi Point any kill is luck based I imagine). Changing the system won’t make criminals not sell hot guns. It will make law abiding citizens not sell legal guns. I know a guy who makes a living selling weapons face to face with anyone who has a valid concealed carry permit. I also only transfer any weapons I sell through an FFL.

    It wouldn’t affect me or any bad guy but there are good people who make a living off face to face sales at gun shows or personally. It just doesn’t add up to changing the system to address an anomaly that is beyond the system to actually prevent.

  12. It looks to me like there were laws in place forbidding this sort of thing, and yet it occurred anyway. More restrictive laws aren’t likely to stop this kind of activity in the future, either.

    Book the perp, throw away the key, and explain this is why we need average responsible citizens to carry concealed.

  13. Actually this should be used as proof that the liberal gun laws don’t prevent crime. Why didn’t NFA34 prevent this guy from murdering people?

    Because criminals don’t obey laws, and liberal gun laws punish otherwise law abiding citizens.

  14. For those decrying the idea of forcing all sales to be through a dealer, as a Californian…

    Its really just a minor annoyance. The seller and buyer go to any dealer in the state, the buyer plunks down $35 (the same fee for a new purchase), they fill out the paperwork, the seller goes on his merry way, and the buyer gets the gun (after CA’s 10 day wait). And if the buyer fails the background check, the gun goes back to the seller immediately.

    It hasn’t shut down the market for private sales: log onto Calguns and you see many MANY for-sale postings.

    And it does have a useful effect. It doesn’t stop smart criminals: They have the black market of stolen guns.

    But it DOES make life much more difficult for the impulsive, dumb ones. They can’t do a legitimate sale (except for >50 year old rifles & shotguns) on a cash-and-carry basis, but instead must go through the black market, where prices are higher, risks are higher, and the available quality is much lower.

    • Cali can do whatever Cali wants to do, and I couldn’t care less. When the Feds do it, we’re all stuck with the outcome. For me, that’s a no-go.

    • Often the nearest FFL is a city or two away. Recall, CA is unfriendly to gun stores. Its not unheard of for stores to be closed from burdensome regulations, local taxes, etc. And today any FFL in urban areas must have a storefront. And FFLs in CA are disappearing. Imagine needing to drive 1 hour each direction TWICE to transfer an item. Not a hassle? Please……. Open NCIS to citizens to call themselves, or if you must insist on this silly procedure for your peace of mind, mandate police stations be available to do this locally.

      Its more than a minor annoyance. And note, sometimes a FFL only allows PPT’s at certain times. Sometimes only on certain days. Often that may mean taking time off work, driving twice to a store, waiting an hour, and all for a law that is never enforced, violators never prosecuted. Don’t be conditioned into thinking this is a minor hassle, especially compared to other states where the purchase of a product is immediate without wait or extra cost.

      Besides, mandatory background checks in CA is another unenforceable law that many people I know simply do not follow. And why should they? Registering a handgun in CA is NOT required. Nor can previous ownership be used in court.

      Quite frankly, people delude themselves by thinking bad people are in any sense slowed down by background checks meant purely as PR. Any bad guy anywhere can just as easily circumvent any ‘safeguard’ scheme just by having their buddy, spouse or relative buy it for them.

  15. How come no one’s asked the real question: Where did you find this ad and how can I order my $189.87 MAK-90?

  16. I’d be ok with a federal registry and end to non licensed transfers if it was done as a constitutional amendment that also forbid state gun regulations and stupid laws like NFA etc. Also it should include constitutional carry.
    Basically one should be able to legally carry a glock 18 into an ihop nationwide and glock 18s should be easy to get and reasonably priced.
    That is commonsense/reasonable gun control

    • The problem with making Federal regulation of the only regulation of firearms laws is that some states have much more power than others(CA vs. ND). If you allow legislators from CA, NY and MA to help to make laws for ND, SD and WY, are you not going to end up with laws that are biased against the states with the smallest representation?

  17. What gun grabbing crap is this? Are you writing for the Brady Campaign now? These are the half-baked arguments they use for gun control. Because something bad can happen it should be banned? Multiple laws were broken for him to get this gun–therefore, extra laws would have never stopped it.

    The true solution is carrying your own gun. It can’t guarantee your safety, but it can give you a fighting chance, which is a lot more than the law did for those people at IHOP.

    • +1
      In addition, I just removed TTAG from my bookmarks. It’s bad enough when anti-gun/anti-freedom types want to grab my guns, but now a alleged supporter of The Second Amendment is advocating for more useless and unConstitutional laws. I wash my hands of this whole site.

      • You won’t be missed.

        This blog is about hearing both sides of the argument and letting our readers make their own decisions. I think our readers are smart enough to do that without needing someone to hold their hand.

        If you want an echo chamber where the only opinions are ones you already agree with then I’m sure you’ll be happier reading some other, less popular firearms blog.

        I wrote this post because I knew exactly what the reaction would be. I wanted an argument, a discussion, where the readers would present opposing arguments to my statement. And, in general, I’m happy with the result.

        The debate that happens in the comments is what makes this site great. If you think private party transfers are a fundamental right then prove it in a comment and change my mind. I assure you, it’s happened more than once.

        • If you think private party transfers are a fundamental right then prove it in a comment and change my mind. I assure you, it’s happened more than once.

          Consider that once one is always required to go through a FFL to transfer any firearm, the exercise of that fundamental right is dependent on the presence of a FFL to purchase or transfer that property. Consider living in Chicago or DC where there are no FFLs. Consider not living near an FFL (None in San Francisco). Maybe one is only available in a city if you live in a more rural state. Consider if the business climate becomes so egregious that FFLs are eliminated from your city, county, or state entirely. It is so hard to imagine that states unfriendly to gun ownership will do whatever it can to drive FFL’s out of business? Especially if obtaining a firearm is dependent on a FFL existing?

          Are you willing to drive hours to buy a gun? Are you willing to spend $35 or whatever on each $100-$200 item you want to buy/trade/leave to kids? Are you willing to drive hours to sell a gun? Are you willing to support mandating background checks in all transfers if the means to do so disappears? Don’t think for an instance that if background checks were ever mandated, that FFL restriction and elimination wouldn’t become a goal.

          There are better ways then mandates that are punitive by design. See below on a couple of solutions.

  18. I am always concerned about the long-term effect of incremental steps that might eventually result in full registration, extensive restrictions, and then confiscation. The gun control advocates lack integrity and will never cease in their quest to ban all civilian ownership of guns.

    However, I do recognize that there is a problem or a loophole with one unethical or ignorant person selling a gun privately to a criminal or simply to a person who should not own a gun. I’m ok, in principle, with two private parties going through a gun dealer who would handle the criminal background check phone call and do the paperwork. This summer, I sold three guns to a gun dealer being ok with making less money rather than sell to a private party. Going through a dealer created a legal-safety barrier for me should those sold guns ever be found on a criminal or at a crime scene.

    Considering private party sales – no background checks – should a seller (who might be unaware of the buyer not meeting a background check or just an unconcerned seller) also be held liable along with the buyer who later commits a crime with a gun?

  19. Looking at the facts in evidence it’s hard to argue against closing off private party transfers.

    Looking at the facts its hard to think that any system designed would work as planned, without error, and without undue hassle and expense. Sure, its easy enough to have a data base and background check ‘system,’ but to work effectively it would rely on data entered competently and be constantly kept up to date. That’s expensive, takes man power and a willingness by gun owners to comply. Only 7 states require background checks between private parties. So that’s plenty of guns not in the system just as a start. Guns passed down generation to generation are unregistered. Guns made from parts kits, receivers drilled out, 1911 frames built up, etc also are not registered. Its legal to build personal firearms which also adds to the mix. And ANY gun sold initially registered becomes irrelevant once a private party trades or sells the item.

    As example, here in CA, the DOJ recently compiled a self audit from volunteer employees. Their very own audit was not reliable enough to tell them how many handguns were in possession of the volunteers. Many times it listed firearms no longer in possession and sometimes the audit assigned firearms that were never even owned by the volunteer. As such, previous ownership can’t be used in court to persecute anyone who might have sold any gun to another. So its largely a waste of time and expense. The only benefit I can see is if a stolen gun is recovered, it then can be returned to the original owner.
    In CA, FFLs are a disappearing breed. Laws passed this last decade require an FFL to have a storefront if in any urban area over 60,000 people. Store fronts may have undue regulations or taxes from local cities. Some go out of business so one may have to drive (often 1 hour each direction). One local to me only does PPT’s on Wednesday which means time off from work to do the transaction. Many people simply do not comply and it’s the law.

    But if you’re looking for solutions here’s a few. Incentives work better than punitive action. Open NCIS to anyone conscientious enough to make the simple phone call verifying eligibility. Offer a tax incentive for doing so. I’ll happily take the tax deduction for my time and expense for making a simple phone call. But if you must insist philosophically that background checks must take place, argue that they be available within police stations. Then those who live rurally and hours from an FFL will be more likely to comply with a law that is largely perception for public relations then anything close to reality.

  20. How is this different from a ATF approved transfer, except for the FA convert? Knowing more about the gun, the illegal conversion, the history of the sales, etc is important information, but the lack of said papertrail doesn’t justify more encroachments on our rights. It only proves the point that criminals don’t respect laws, and that goes for a myriad of gun laws too.

  21. Mr. Leghorn, sir, I respectfully disagree.

    When the illegal sale of an illegal weapon happens despite the existing law, then further laws will have no impact on a repeat of the crime. (I am making the assumption that we wish to stop a repeat of the crime…) Could there be an inherent problem with the original premise? That being that certain weapons in and of themselves are bad. I propose an experiment: Pick one small-population state (Montana, for example) and make that state exempt from all federal gun laws (1934 NFA, 1968 GCA, Brady Bill background checks) and watch closely what happens.

    One word of warning: Once people get a taste of freedom, it will be extremely hard to take it back.

  22. Talk about an echo chamber, I say one little thing in opposition to the shit you are spouting, and you moderate me. Yeah, those sound like the actions of someone looking for debate.

  23. If he used a semi-automatic (unmodified) version of the rifle, would anyone be less dead? If the gun could be traced back to a legal sale, would anyone still be alive?

  24. In answer to Sid, if a semi-automatic had been used there very well could have been more just as dead. Rounds would have been more accurately placed and would have expended more slowly.

    “Sid says:
    October 6, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    If he used a semi-automatic (unmodified) version of the rifle, would anyone be less dead? If the gun could be traced back to a legal sale, would anyone still be alive?”

  25. This is a Martin and my profession is dealing in
    used cars

    my views are….

    It’s not even that simple. The receiver doesn’t have the strengthening “crowfoot” so to do it right, you have to support the pin somehow. Welding a doubling plate to the receiver would work.

    But if you were going to make an auto-only (not select-fire), didn’t care about safety function and didn’t care about durability of the receiver, it wouldn’t be too hard.

    But if you already had a 100% functional semi, FA doesn’t really get you much. The average person can pull 6-8 shots a second in semi without much practice at all. An automatic AK is 10 shots a second. So…

  26. Yes, let’s pass MORE laws to prevent legal xfers of guns. This will certainly change criminals’ minds regarding their illicit activities…”Oh, wait! I can’t sell you this illegal AK, dawg! They’s just passed a law ‘gainst private-party sales!”

    Foghorn, you’re kind of a douche. I hear Huff Post is hiring…

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