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 "Jill Schaller took a picture of the Glock pistol and bill of sale before returning it to the seller." (Caption courtesy USA Today. Photo- Reno Gazette-Journal)

“A Reno police officer who sold a personal gun while on duty last week to a 19-year-old man might have violated state and federal laws because the young man had been committed to a mental hospital while suicidal last year, which could prohibit him from possessing a firearm,” a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation [republished by] reports. Might have . . . but didn’t. “Reno Police Sgt. Laura Conklin posted an ad for her gun on the website Armslist, and the man responded, according to his mother, Jill Schaller of Reno. Conklin told him she worked the night shift and said she could meet him at 4 a.m. at a Starbucks.” Granted . . .

Selling a gun at 4am seems inherently dicey. But I don’t recall any law prohibiting Americans from conducting private commercial transactions during the wee hours of the morning. And although a FFL gun dealer can’t sell a handgun to anyone under 21, there is no such restriction for private sales.

It should also be noted that Sgt. Conklin displayed more than a passing interest in both the letter and spirit of the law.

They met, she asked if he had committed any crimes, and he said “no,” according to Schaller. Conklin sold the man a Glock handgun for $950 cash and gave him a bill of sale, which was signed by both parties.

$950? I’d give up a night’s sleep for that kind of profit. Although it did include “nite sites,” a “slide extension” and three magazines.

Anyway, you know what happened next. The teen—who’d been involuntarily committed to West Hills Hospital—used the gun to kill himself. I mean, commit murder. Wait. I mean . . . nothing. He didn’t kill himself or do anything illegal with the gun that Sgt. Conklin sold to him legally.

I repeat, NOTHING HAPPENED. Except his mother got her knickers in a twist and “went public” with the sale. [Click here for her statement to the media.] Well, something did happen: the incident provided a [im]perfect opportunity for the Reno Gazette-Journal and the media wolf pack to use the incident to highlight the need for “universal background checks.”

It is illegal under state and federal law for a person to possess a firearm if he or she was “committed to any mental health facility.” It also is illegal to sell a firearm to someone who has been institutionalized.

Note the lack of the key word: “knowingly.” As in it’s illegal to knowingly sell a firearm who has been institutionalized. Sgt. Conklin didn’t know her buyer had Asperger’s Syndrome or any other mental issue. In the immortal words of Wendy’s/Walter Mondale, where’s the beef?

It is legal for a citizen to sell a gun without a background check on the buyer, though the seller could request one. Mindy McKay, an analyst with the Nevada Department of Public Safety division that handles background checks, said her agency has received few requests from private parties for them.

Had the man gone to a gun shop instead of to a private party, a check would have been mandatory. He would have filled out a form that asks if he’d been institutionalized, and a background check itself should have noted the commitment.

Yes, but he didn’t go to a gun store did he? Which means this isn’t the gun control story Mrs. Schaller and the Reno Gazette-Journal et. al are looking for, is it? And for once, I’m not reading between the lines. To wit, the R-GZ felt obliged to add this little gem:

A Senate bill passed by the Nevada Legislature during the 2013 session would have required background checks for all gun sales, including private party sales, starting Oct. 1. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed the measure.

In his veto statement, Sandoval said that while he supported the “enhanced reporting requirements concerning mentally ill persons,” he said requiring background checks for private sales would constitute “an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights.”

Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner told the newspaper that she was working on a response from the governor on the case but did not have one by late Tuesday.

The rest of the report details Mrs. Schaller’s confrontation with her child which, thankfully, ended well. But her decision to pin the problem on public policy is patently problematic. And the media pimping for her point of view is pernicious.

Background checks are nothing more than security theater. Anyone who promotes the idea that gun control laws save lives is seriously deluded. Which, it seems, runs in the family.

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  1. Sergeant Conklin should have known something was wrong, because you’d have to be crazy to buy a used glock for $950.

    • Even at the height of the post-Sandy Hook buying craze, a used long slide Glock in perfect condition with 3 normal capacity mags & tritium sights might have gone for $750-ish.

      Except for this one….

      • A friend of mine sold his Glock 20 last week for $750. Fiber optic sights and some extra mags. There are people who are still willing to pay top dollar for a Glock for some reason.

        • That’s one heck of a good price…they’re certainly going for less than that on GunBroker.

    • I was thinking the same thing. That would have set off all kinds of warning bells in my head, but it wasn’t my sale, so they did what they did. All my private sales have required either showing a pistol purchase permit and ID or a CCW license and ID, that way I at least have some idea that they’ve been vetted by the local PD, but I understand those who want complete and unfettered access to firearms for non-felons.

      • Proforce has brand new in box with 3 mags Glock 23 Gen 4 for $398.20. I may be adding a Glock 19 if I can get one for the same price.

        • Buy the 23, pick up a lone wolf 9MM conversion barrel for $100 and some G19 mags and now you have both. I’ve put thousands of rounds of 9MM through my G22 and 27 with that combo with no malfunctions whatsoever, I’ve run some hollow points through as well.

      • Apparently none of you live in Mass. On the local forums you can see gen 4 Glock for $850+. I have seen them for $950 before especially with three mags and if any of them are pre-ban that’s easy money all day.

        • Yup. Scarcity drives prices big time! Entry price for a Glock in MA is about $550, got pre-ban mags? It goes up, G23, goes way up, G27 gets pricey too. these are used guns in gun stores for $700 for G27’s. You won’t find G17/19/26 anywhere, nor pre-ban mags, best is the G22/23/27’s and expect to pay dearly for those and $50+ for 20 year old standard capacity mags for the 22’s and 23’s.

        • That I have seen in California forums. $750 for gen3 and up to 1k for gen4 glocks. I had an itch for one and picked one up from a local gun store for less than 600 otd.

  2. Here, in part, is why this whole mental evaluation of people can lead to their right to arms being revoke is very dangerous. Here you have a wishy-washy mental ‘illness’ of Asperger’s Syndrome leading to a hard line stance that someone can be ruled unfit to own a firearm. Autism labeling will lead to an entire generation of Americans being disarmed. I keep looking for examples of civilian disarmament but this one takes the cake. So before it even starts that someone is going to say I am wrong and that Autism and Asperger’s is real I am going to squash it now – No nation outside of the USA has Autistic children. You know what children in this country do not have autism… Mennonite is one group. That being said I will admit that there are some children that are autistic but it is over diagnosed.

    I am telling you all… It starts with Autism labeling and that opens up the door for all kinds of bogus mental illness evaluations to disarm the people.

    • Autism is real but being over diagnosed more likely. When visiting the UK a few years ago there was a class of Autistic kids visiting the same museum as us.

      • Yes, and I should have been clearer earlier. There are real cases of autism but Asperger’s and ADHD are a sham.

    • It’s just like PTSD. The majority of PTSD cases diagnosed are for nothing more than the VA compensation, and civilians do it for the insurance compensation. Funny how a soldier will do two or three tours in Iraq or Afg., even with injuries, but yet no PTSD until he returns from the last one and it is time to retire or leave service. Of course, now, they will find that they will loose their 2nd amendment rights.

      • Post Traumatic Stress isn’t made up. The reason you’ll see guys coming back after their third tour isn’t because it didn’t exist on the previous two tours. It was there the entire time. People just deal with it differently. There’s also the chance that maybe something traumatic didn’t happen on those first two tours. That’s how it is with me. I deployed 11 years ago for the start of Iraqi Freedom but I wasn’t in country. I was an avionics technician deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, hundreds of miles away. Last year, I was in Afghanistan as an MQ-1 sensor operator and we had rocket attacks regularly, some of them landing and exploding very close to us. That was my 2nd deployment to the Middle East and there is definitely some PTS for anyone who spent any time in Afghanistan.

    • I’m 40 years old and Asperger’s, though diagnosed as an adult and not fucked with by the school system.

      Asperger’s and other less debilitating degrees of autism don’t make anyone a danger to themselves or others. They don’t affect judgment of right and wrong.

      Here is nothing about my mental state that affects my competency to own a firearm.

  3. And how do they propose enforcing mandatory background checks on all private sales? This would only be enforceable using some sort of registry.

  4. I support assisted suicide. If a person feels they have to go, hold the door for them. I have watched loved ones suffer thru incurable illnesses. It’s not pretty and I hope that if I ever get into that shape I have the stones to end it quick and on my terms.

    Whatever was troubling this boy enough for him to pick death it’s not my place to judge him right or wrong. He spent 950 bucks on the Glock. He could have just as easily spent 950 bucks on enough drugs to do himself in one over dose. His options were endless and he chose the gun. None of the rest of us should be punished for his choice.

    He could just have easily taken a knife to the local grocery store and snatched a kid to hold at knife point and force the cops to do him and traumitize all involved like another we heard about not long ago.

      • He killed himself and I expressed my support of him killing himself.

        My bad, it was worded so that I thought he had killed himself. I still support his right to do so if he choses in the future.

  5. I think it’s criminal — criminal — to sell a gun at 4 a.m. at Starbucks when La Michoacana is open 24/7.

  6. The thing that bothers me when I read a story such as this is that if we believe the person is too dangerous to e able to own a gun, isn’t he also too dangerous to drive a car, be allowed access to knives, gasoline or a large number of other chemicals? Shouldn’t he be controlled to the point where he can’t buy fireworks, nails and pressure cookers?

    • The questions are as absurd as the possible answers. The urge to control every single thing is an affront to the advancement of humankind.

  7. The 4 a.m. thing immediately reminded me of a line from an old Chris Rock comedy special, about 24 hour ATMs:

    (Language NSFW)

    “ATMs are open 24 hours a day. For who? Have you ever taken out three hundred dollars at four o’clock in the mornin’ for somethin positive?”

  8. The Federal government doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to tell me what used products I can and cannot own. Period.

  9. Two crimes were possibly committed here: One against the law, and one against common-sense. (God, how I’ve come to loathe that phrase, which has come to mean anything but)

    1. The buyer knowingly purchased a firearm after being legally barred: Illegal.

    2. The seller asking $950.00? I’m all for the free market, but if someone is willing to pay that much for a Glock, you’re either a bad judge of character, or Snidley Whiplash. (neither of which is a criminal offense)

    I know it may sound callous, but a potentially dangerous person offed himself before going on a spree. The left always likes to warn us about the potential of “assualt weapons”. So they will, no doubt, elevate this man to martyr victim status. Lone (possible) nutjob dead, zero collateral damage: I see it as a good kill, even if it was by his own hand.

    More legislation will be drafted by the hand-wringers, which at the end of the day…WILL DO NO GOOD!

  10. If he was underage when he was hospitalized for a suicides attempt it would be De jure voluntary even if it was technically involuntary, as the law views 72 hour holds or temporary commitment for observation different than “full” Committed to a Mental Health Institution, especially for minors. I’m not a lawyer but that’s how I understand it.

  11. We also do not know the circumstances of his hospitalization. Did he get into a fight with his mom over cleaning his room and she called the cops or a similar incident? We had kids come to join the Army who had parents who called the cops on their kids to “teach their kids a lesson”. Besides wasting the police department’s resources, demonstrating that they should not have had children in the first place, and a total lack of sense, they permanently tagged their kid with a domestic A&B charge whether it’s dropped or not.

    This is not a good precedent to just start stripping rights away for any reason, mostly due to unjustified fear. This kid most likely will not have any problem and just use his gun for going shooting and having fun. Just like I did when I was 18-19 and I grabbed my rifle and shotgun to go plinking.

  12. Am I missing something here? If he had been involuntarily committed to an institution, would that have shown up in a NICS check? Does NV have access to those records for firearms transactions? Unless I’m badly mistaken, such records are routinely NOT available in a lot, if not most, states. Even if he had gone through a check at a FFL place of bidness, if he lied on the form (gasp, who does that? perish the thought), could he have still gotten a G-whatever?

        • There should be no such thing as a “prohibited person”. If we cannot trust a man with a weapon, then we cannot trust him to walk the streets. “…shall not be infringed..” does not include any exceptions.

  13. The main question is “Is the mother using the term “committed” correctly?”
    If mom an dad just drove him to the hospital and checked him in, then he was not “committed”.

    “According to federal regulations, a person has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” if a court, board, commission or other lawful authority has determined that he or she, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease: (1) is a danger to himself, herself, or others, or (2) lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs. The term “adjudicated as a mental defective” explicitly includes a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetence to stand trial.
    Federal regulations define a person as “committed to a mental institution” if a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority has formally committed him or her to a mental institution. The term is defined to include involuntary commitments, but does not include persons who are admitted to a mental institution voluntarily or for observation.”

  14. “And although a FFL gun dealer can’t sell a firearm to anyone under 21, there is no such restriction for private sales.”

    Federal law requires 21 years of age for purchasing a handgun. Rifles and shotguns are 18.

    Source: The shotgun I purchased yesterday from an FFL (while under 21).

  15. I guess this makes the 19 year old an IGOTD
    1) $950 for just about any used handgun
    2) He told his anti-gun mommy he bought a pistol

  16. the parent got involved, knew what her child was doing. If more parents actually did that, esp in the inner city, there would be far fewer criminals under 21 running around with guns. Laws are not a substitute for good parenting.

  17. The Reno Gazette Journal is a pecksniffing newspaper in a pretty much libertarian town. There’s gambling in town, whoring just out of town, and you can wander out just about anywhere onto BLM or USFS land for shooting opportunities, as long as it isn’t too dry and the fire danger is high. Booze is sold 24/7, even in grocery stores, and once you get out of town, speed limits become more like recommendations. More than once, I’ve hauled down a two-land road in Nevada (even in north Washoe County) at 80+ MPH and waved to the sheriff or deputy as he cruised on by (at 80+ MPH) in the other lane.

    If you want to see how seriously Nevadans take their shooting, wander up to the Washoe County Range, about 23 miles north of town. It hasn’t much in the way of shotgun sports, but it has a no-foolin’ 1,000 yard range with pits made for really long range shooting. The firing lanes are oriented north/south (targets on the north end) the way they should be, with covered firing positions on the 50 to 300 yard range. Full-auto range is also there, along with pistol ranges and practical shooting courses.

    For clay sports, there’s the shotgun range at the southeast end of the Truckee Meadows, which has world-class sporting clays.

    So yea, Reno is a “gun town.” Folks there have guns in great abundance. There’s guns everywhere.

    But the RGJ? It is staffed with a bunch of pearl-and-hanky clutching liberals, who get the fan-tods every time someone does something fun, wild or free. When someone mentions the word “gun” in their ear, they faint from fright.

  18. “Sgt. Conklin didn’t know her buyer had Asperger’s Syndrome or any other mental issue.”

    I think it is high time somebody did a little research on Asperger’s before posting anything that relates it to a mental health issue. Asperger’s kids and adults are only different in that they use extreme logic in all aspects of life (so your jokes may not be as funny to them), they NEVER lie (EVER) and they enjoy personal space more than you or I (don’t hug too long).

    To bring this up continually is irresponsible blogging. Your views here are respected and you risk alienating some very bright and charming people due to a lack of research on your part.

    I visit this site MANY times every day and enjoy it immensely. You are better than this. With just a little research you will learn that no one has been institutionalized for Asperger’s since the 70’s. That’s the same decade as disco. Go figure…

  19. Something that so many miss, and it is printed on the bottom of the Nevada Blue card:

    “C.C. Ord. 12.04.210 It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, give away, or permanently pass on to another person of any pistol revolver or other firearm capable of being concealed unless the Transferor first registers, or causes the weapon to be registered to the new owner.”

  20. But at some point you have to be responsible for your own actions. Mummy or Pappy aren’t always there to do your hair & wipe your arse.

    I was on my own at the age of 17 when I moved out as a junior in high school. Never looked back.

    If I cut the strings to parental dominance (not bad) then why the heck should anyone else be responsible for my actions just because they sell me something.

    Now apply that in reverse.

  21. If everyone said the words, “there ought to be a law” and their complaint was made into law no one anywhere would be able to legally do anything. People need to be careful what they ask for. I get so tired of these cowards everywhere that can’t face the fact that freedom is better than the state dictating all aspects of your life and the cost of the occasional “incident” is well worth the reward of freedom.

  22. I think that everyone has it wrong. Last time I filled out the 4473, it asked if I have ever been adjudged “mentally defective.” Just because the guy may have spent some time in an institution because his (apparently) mamby pamby mom thought he might be suicidal does not rise to that level. Someone correct me if I’m wrong – unlike the journalists who wrote this story, and the gun grabbers at large, I’m willing to admit my errors in the face of evidence.


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