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Joe Manchin courtesy

“Owning a gun, shooting a gun, loading a gun and posing with a gun gives (politicians) creedence, they believe, in the eyes of conservative voters. The polarization of American politics has turned the process into a black-and-white joke: you’re either for us, or you’re against us. Guns good or guns bad. By doing so, these politicians demean the very voters they hope to attract on Election Day. They don’t discuss policy. They don’t talk about tangible ways to improve government. Instead, they film 30-second spots with a gun, assuming voters will be led like lemmings near a cliff. ‘Look, honey, he’s toting a rifle and shooting a Glock. He’s one of us!'” – Anniston Star editorial board in Vote for me and my gun [at]

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  1. And how is this different from Northeast politicians (like Malloy) who simply have “I love gun control” ads and no substance about the states failing economy?

  2. All these politicians shooting guns in their campaign ads may not automatically prove their conservative credentials, but they do prove one thing; people shoot guns safely and responsibly all the time.

  3. Politicians have always thought very little of the voters.
    Not without reason. They’re largely fickle, ignorant morons. Yay democracy!

    • That is why the Founding Fathers chose to make a Republic. The tyranny of 50%+1 is as anti-liberty as a dictator.

      • That’s a nice dream but our Republic does not adhere to the limitations placed on it. It just bends and makes shit up when it has the time to and ignores the limitations when it doesnt feel like putting out the effort to justify its actions.

        Having some court decades later enforce a limitation after the lives of millions of people have already been affected doesn’t count.

        • It is still better the Rothbardian faux Libertarian alternative which just fragments society into a bunch of warring mini-mobs.

    • Not inaccurate.

      The other edge of that sword, however, is that you cannot have a society that secures your rights without also securing a moron’s rights. Assuming, of course, you aren’t a moron.

      • That’s why i favor a libertarian dictatorship. It’s all the rights without dipshits getting a say.
        I nominate myself. I accept. Let’s get on with it. We can keep congress on in a strictly advisory roll i guess if you’re really set on having elections. But i’ll warn you, all i’m really going to do after the first few months when we’re gutting Leviathan is abolish speed limits (yes, we’re going to keep the roads) and dip into the tax fund every few years for something nice (like a Koenigsegg).
        I liken my regime to the kicking team encircling a punt. I’m not going to do anything with it and i’m damn sure not going to let anyone else. I have a list if you’d like to see it. (it involves a gold plated AK)

        • I know you are being funny and your post is very funny but like all good humor it gets to the meat of the problem. Too many self-proclaimed Libertarians would act exactly as you have written and would enforce their “Libertarian” orthodoxy at the point of a gun.

  4. Yeah but the editorial left out one key fact. People/voters ARE lemmings. These ads, and all the other nonsense, WORK. If it did not we wouldn’t have idiots in out school boards, city mayors, state legislators and Federal gov’t.

      • It’s a bingo! When it’s two different flavors or dumb and evil… We all lose. Current regime case and point.

        • Unfortunately, the appeal of political power is strongest with evil idiots. Good honest productive people who have real talent actually produce in the private sector as opposed to the public sector which just Messes up pretty much everything it touches.

  5. Gun or not, these people are NOT ‘one of us’. Some of them do have more contempt for us than others, but none of them are in the ‘us’ category.

      • Don’t kid yourself, Boehner and McConnell aren’t ‘us’ either. They just know that if they pushed for gun control they’d be primaried out of their jobs.

        • I am not fooled, I just gave two persons for reference who won elections running on their pro-gun cred only to turn around and do the opposite.

          All politicians would sell us out if they found a way to do so and stay in power.

          Neither party cares about the constitution any longer.

        • Both are statists and are little different from their fellow statists in the Democratic party. With the world coming down around our ears, Boehner’s prattling on about amnesty. Typical. My litmus test: Statist = no support.

  6. Why do people want to elect “someone like me”? That’s both shortsighted and egocentric.

    Never mind. Answered my own question.

  7. Guns are an excellent issue to look at. They are a good indicator of how much of a statist the politician is.

    • This is really an extraordinary insight! We PotG should advertise this insight. There are a lot of Fuds among us, and there are a lot of libertarians and conservatives and constitutionalists who don’t have much interest in guns per se. Nevertheless, they do clearly recognize the threat of statism. If they wanted a touchstone of a candidate’s support/opposition of statism they should look to the GOA, NRA, Brady ratings for their candidate.

    • You’re absolutely correct. Growing up, we moved around a lot domestically and internationally (USAF), so I experienced different cultures, even within the U.S. However, those are cultural issues as impact a kid, not an adult. So it wasn’t even until college in Texas and seeing the amazed and pleased faces on out-of-state students’ faces upon receiving their first part time job paychecks here, that I even knew that such a thing as state income taxes (let alone city income taxes) even existed. Lots of kids from CA, NY and such places were pleasantly surprised to learn that state local income taxes aren’t imposed in Texas.

      Thereafter, I always used tax policies, in addition to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms policies, as proxies for any given state’s liberty posture. Get it right on those big four, regardless whether one personally partakes in alcohol, tobacco, or firearms, and that state is very likely to be pretty pro-freedom in most regards; certainly relative to its peers.

      • Let’s suppose we all agree that policy on taxes is another good indicator. (Or, we might agree that tobacco were good, or something else, flying kites.) Still, there are two complexity arguments to take into account. Since we are here on TTAG (not TTATaxes) Let’s assume guns are primary and taxes are secondary.
        The first complexity argument is that we would be inviting voters with a conservative/libertarian bent to took at multiple touchstones of fealty to liberty. That’s more difficult that looking at a single touchstone. A politician might be good on one but mediocre on the other. In such a case, the voter might be confused and decide to vote for that candidate because he is good on parks or is tall or attractive.
        The second complexity argument is that the secondary consideration – taxes – is either more or less a complex evaluation issue. It’s much easier to evaluate a gun voting record and decide whether the candidate is pro/anti gun. It’s much harder to evaluate a tax voting record. Tax bills are usually complex compromises of lots of competing considerations the final and controlling one is funding the government’s budget. A candidate might have voted for the bill because he knew some bill had to pass and this bill was not-the-worst possibility. A candidate might have voted against a bill knowing that that bill would probably fail anyway and he could claim to be tough on taxes even though – later – he would vote for an equally bad bill that included more pork for his district.
        If we assume that it is a good idea to popularize some touchstone – e.g., RKBA – it will be more effective to concentrate our message on that one touchstone.
        Here, I’m not arguing that RKBA is necessarily the best choice of touchstones. Perhaps there exists another issue which is better still. Yet, depending on what else is in the public consciousness, one or another is probably the best to promote. We seem to have talked about taxes from the dawn of the USA to today; but, at no time was the issue of taxes less impactful than it is today. We are starting to talk about ISIS invading America and cutting off heads on Main Street. Might the public today be in the mood to take a fresh look at RKBA?

        • You’re over thinking it. First, my four point alcohol/tobacco/firearms/taxes test applied to states as a whole, not to individual politicians. Second, states as a whole is an easier comparison because, well, it is what it is, and it’s plain to see. Moreover, there’s no real gain in recreating the voting records that resulted in a state’s status. Just go to the tax foundation’s website and look up a given state’s per capita state-local tax burden and you have your answer. Similar easy to uncover sources exist for the other criteria.

          For individual politicians, it’s still not all that difficult to assess their voting records. Just follow the major issues and take note of how they vote. Your local paper usually publishes a graphic of your local Reps. and Sens. roll call votes that week. For big votes, you can go to the Congressional Record and look them up yourself. You can also just go to their own website and look up the legislative successes that they brag about. Look to see what legislation they’ve authored and which has passed. For a more comprehensive assessment, just go to and look up the pol’s interest group ratings from groups whose values you share and analysis you trust. Done and done.

          There are no excuses anymore for being a low information voter. Take the time it takes to watch just ONE episode of any given ridiculous singing & dancing game show or so-called reality T.V. show, and put that time instead to researching the candidates in a race, and you’ve done it.

          • I take your point on assessing each State relative to the other 49. One can paint a picture for the voters in each State that their legislators for the past few decades have been doing a poor job of running public affairs. That may give them a wake-up call to vote differently or emigrate to a better State.
            For individual politicians, I think we are farther apart. Your second paragraph seems to focus on the individual voter and his responsibility to research his candidates. Every 2 years he must look at a few candidates for House nominations; every 6 for a few candidates for each of 2 Senate seats. Then, his State legislators, Governors and POTUS. It ought to be a manageable effort. Yet, realistically, it’s more work than the overwhelming majority of voters will ever do.
            Perhaps there are web sites that consolidate the ratings of lots of special interest groups. If there are no such sites, likely they could be created. Then, within an hour or so, a voter could study his candidates and make an informed choice. That would help.
            Even so, the whole process of moving legislation through the process is very opaque; and, deliberately so. Most bills are loaded with multiple provisions including poison pills. The financial bills (taxes and budget) are probably the worst in this respect. So, candidate X voted for this tax bill and that budget. I’d have to conclude that if he voted for any tax or budget bill whatsoever that he is a Tax-&-Spender. Is that my best judgement? Perhaps he argued for the best bill he thought might be passed and then voted for it lest a worse-still bill be passed. Another legislator voted Nay on every tax and budget throughout his career. He seems like a fiscal conservative. Yet, maybe, he just voted himself out of having any influence at all.
            The OP suggests an interesting idea. Maybe some topics – such as gun control/liberty – are much easier to track. Is this so? I don’t know, but it seems like an interesting possibility. Suppose that it’s true (if not for guns then maybe some other issue.) Is such a particular – easily tracked – issue a touchstone for how that candidate really views liberty? If so, then it’s a very useful tool for liberty-minded voters; particularly those with a special interest in that issue.
            A low-effort voter (alas, even I must admit to this) can look at a candidate’s ratings from GOA, NRA, Brady and conclude he is pro-liberty or a statist.
            Now, then, what I think is the more important issue is how to motivate confused, low-efffort, voters to look at his candidates, make up his mind, and then vote. If we can motivate libertarians and conservatives to vote for liberty-oriented candidates and against statists then we advance the ball.
            Look at the tragedy of the VA Governors race. A terrible statist won against a plenty-good-enough conservative because a Libertarian candidate siphoned-off just enough votes to spoil the race. We are idiots when we let this sort of thing happen. Most of us should agree about that particular race. I hold that we are idiots for withholding our votes for Romney according to the same reasoning.
            Too many libertarian and conservative voters don’t participate because they can’t find a way to break through the fog of so many issues and the data on so many issues. The OP is offering us an idea that might lead us out of this dilemma.
            My suggestion is that we critique his strategy and choice of issue. Use your techniques and see if most candidates’ GOA, NRA, Brady ratings seem to point to good/bad choices as proven by your much more complicated and time-consuming analysis. Maybe the OP’s idea works using the gun issue. Then, repeat the exercise with abortion. Maybe the OP’s idea works better/worse with abortion than it does with guns. Perhaps there is another “single-issue” that works still better.
            You are right, of course, that there are no satisfactory excuses for remaining a low-information voter today. Alas, any excuse serves to discourage making the investment in becoming a better-informed voter. For example, I lived in NJ for 23 years and live in PA now. It’s relatively clear to me that I have had NO-one to vote for; so, my job at the polls was easy. Vote for the Republicans no matter how useless. In the past few years I’ve put my effort into campaign contributions to candidates in other States.
            Now, you see, my problem is much harder than described above. I don’t need to evaluate the candidates in my State, I only have to evaluate the candidates in the other 49 States to decide which few I will send money to. I need help; so, I’m interested in the OP’s idea. If it works, then maybe it would serve as a means to aid other libertarians and conservatives to send money where it will do the most good and vote when they can to support a good candidate or the lesser of two evils.

    • Just like Shannon saying she has black friends. . . . Except when it comes to living in her neighborhood and coming to her home

  8. Not to be picky (ha!) but our “betters” in the press really should do–well, better with the tools of their trade. The word they want is “credence”. This is “creedence” :

  9. Agreed, politicians are not “one of us”. Precious few ever have been, and generally have all been bought and paid for before they ever get their names on a ballot. This is not new, but the insidious shift of American politics towards the radical left leaves conservatives appearing more and more radical right. There is a gulf between them now, which is the only possible result when R/D define themselves as opposite of each other. Of course in modern politics, the “statesman” is long gone and R/D makes little difference; they are ALL part of the statist machine, whose only goal is self perpetuation and control. The Rs have just learned not to touch the third rail of gun control. For now. Yes I’m disgusted, but still vote. I prefer partisan gridlock to either party gaining a majority in both Houses of Congress and the POTUS.

    Campaign ads work because the masses are lazy and stupid. That’s the only possible valid explanation for why they work. The image of some “sport” on the trap range is just more elitist nonsense. Most of these look purely staged, JC Penny style; new unblemished gear, etc., no stains on shooting coats, no sweat. In Florida, you sweat at the range. How about a worn A5 or something that looks like it’s actually been in the family a while? Expensive double guns are just part of the upper crust image for old money families, liberal or otherwise. I like busting clays as much as the next guy, but I’d like to see so-called pro-gun politicians shoot a high-power match and not endanger anyone. Pick up an evil black rifle, M1 or M1A, and keep all shots in the black. That would prove some amount of gun cred. Staged photo ops with “fud” guns doesn’t cut it.

    PS- I hate the term “fud” but it communicates exactly what I mean, o/u shotguns and low capacity food harvesting devices. No detachable ammunition feeding devices, no things that go up, no shrouds, lugs, pistol grips, threaded muzzle thingies, no semi auto, etc., ad nauseum. Nothing particularly suited for resisting and overthrowing tyranny.

  10. “tdiinva says:
    September 20, 2014 at 09:07
    It is still better the Rothbardian faux Libertarian alternative which just fragments society into a bunch of warring mini-mobs.”

    In absense of a state people may be more likely to work with each other or away from each other as opposed to fighting when the chance of harm is possible. The state brings in aggression that individuals or groups would not have a chance to get away with in society. It’s much easier to buy a politician and have the state attack something you don’t like than to attack it yourself and have many groups attack you in defence.

    • Seen every time a nosey neighbor calls the cops because somebodys kid is playing too loudly. Or when teachers/parents call the cops because they can’t/won’t discipline the child.

      The kid gets carted off to DCFS if lucky or ends up dead if unlucky and the person who called the cops wonders what happened.

      Politicians send other people’s kids off to war and people let the cops handle their neighborly relations and parenting for them because they can.

      The state amplifies the shortcomings, insecurities and faults of a dependent population to the point of mass murder and it’s all okay because the state is god and we love god even when he’s raining brimstone on a town or telling daughters to lay with their drunken unconscious fathers.

  11. Some folks are made to raise the flag
    Ooh, theyre red, white and blue
    And when the band plays hail to the chief
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you.
    But it aint me, it aint me,
    I aint no senators son
    It aint me, it aint me
    I aint no fortunate one
    Some folks are born with silver spoon in hand
    Lord, dont they help themselves? Oh
    But when the taxman come to the door
    Lord, the house look like a rummage sale, yes
    Yeah, yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
    Ooh,they send you down to war, Lord
    And when you ask them, how much should we give
    Ooh, they only answer, more, more, yo
    chorus Credence Clearwater

    The struggle/debate over guns and the 2nd amendment is not about guns. It is about power. If push ever comes to shove in our republic George Bush, Dick Cheney, the Crotch brothers and all the millionaire politicians on both sides of the isle will be no where in sight. They are not our friends or allies. They will be doing everything they can to protect their power and wealth.

  12. I just wanted to say the comments in this article are very thought provoking!

    I’m wondering:
    -would minimal government increase the likelihood of cooperation or conflict?
    -what a libertarian dictatorship would be like.
    -about the “state amplifying the shortcomings, insecurities and faults of a dependent population.

    I do strongly believe that “The tyranny of 50%+1 is as anti-liberty as a dictator.” We should compact the thought into “The tyranny of the 51%” which would make a more emotional sound byte and a quicker read on a bumper or T-shirt. I think the concept is a salable idea to the masses.

    • There’s nothing libertarian about a dictatorship.
      If the horror came to pass that everyone was free to do as they would save inflicting harm to person or property not their own at gunpoint then a hippie commune, or religious enclave or a little North Korea could exist if people really wanted to participate in such things.

      The key is the people voluntarily participate. I won’t subject tdiinva to the horror of freedom if he doesnt want it and it he wants to set up a little fascist compound on his own property he’s welcome to do it.

  13. Having politicians tote guns in public while disparaging them in private is certainly disingenuous, but ultimately it’s helpful to our cause. It’s good for people to see other people peaceably handling guns. Isn’t that what the open carry movement is all about?

    A single picture of Joe Manchin (yeah, he’s a snake) with a gun is worth a hundred videos of Leonard Embody (who, despite his faults, is on our side).

  14. That paper’s editorial board focusing on firearms in ads is just them desperately seeking relevancy. The very same could be said for politicians posing with their families, or in jeans and polo shirts, or rolled up shirtsleeves and hardhats, or with local symbols in the background (horses, cattle, farmland, oilrigs, the Alamo, NASA, Houston skyline……fill in your own state’s icons here…..)

    It’s all candidate packaging and public perception shaping, just like any other product being marketed. Product, price, place, promotion: those are your four big P’s of Marketing. Attempting to connect over firearms is not new or unique, nor is it in itself inherently divisive, offensive or effective. What matters is the substance, not the symbolism.

    You can’t just stroll up every two, four, or six years, film a 30 second spot with a shotgun, and satisfy me. I need to see your pro-active and tangible achievements in not only defending, but expanding, firearms freedoms. Show me results, not a photo op.

  15. Hey I’m happy that politicians are at least interested in the gun vote to insincerely pander to it. Did you think that that politicians kissing babies meant they actually liked babies? Most of them are lying weasels whose only motivation is to get elected and stay elected. One thing the NRA has done well (maybe the only thing) is hit them right in the ballot box.

    • Did you think that that politicians kissing babies meant they actually liked babies?

      Are you kidding? Eliot Spitzer liked babies so much that he kissed them before they were born.

  16. I have come to the conclusion that the jackasses in charge (AKA Politicians) will continue the destruction of the economy and will eventually destroy the country since there appears to be nothing that will stop them. Winter is coming and it will be long and cold.

  17. Speaking only on that picture, I will say that Manchin is a complete fraud. I had the opportunity to talk to him face to face on the Manchin-Toomey bill he was pushing at the time along with the 2A in general. First off, he had no clue on what was in “his” bill and couldn’t give any straight answers when confronted on the details in it. Second, he has no clue to the purpose of the 2A, it’s history, and why it is written the way it is. He, like most politicians, caters his ads to low information voters who have the critical thinking skills of a cockroach (and that is being generous).

    • And, why should anyone be surprised? Very little, if any, legislation is passed by Congress by Senators/Representatives who have the slightest understanding of what is in the bill. Only occasionally does this become conspicuous (e.g., ObamaCare). Yet, it’s there all along.
      Most of the provisions of legislation are worked-up by interest groups operating through lobbyists. These provisions are then massaged by legislators’ staffs. What comes out is a bill that gets amended and voted on.
      Here is my operational complaint. Grass-roots users have to decide how they will participate in this process. For simplification, let’s assume our only lobbyist in DC is the NRA. (There are others, whom I don’t which to slight by mentioning some but not others. The NRA serves my purpose as a proxy for all of them). We NRA members have two choices:
      1. – We can criticize the NRA for everything it does. No deal of any sort is acceptable. No tinkering with any existing law; if they can’t repeal the NFA’34 in its entirety then don’t try to dilute it. Any bill whatsoever that is presented, lobby against it. Even if the bill exclusively promotes gun rights and compromises in no aspect, it doesn’t go far enough.
      2. – We conduct a public debate on the merits of a variety of ideas. Good, bad and ugly. E.g., around the topic of UBCs, just exactly which ugly implications are essential to avoid? Probably anything that would build a registration database or something close to a database. Anything that would put us all in jeopardy of violation for innocent behavior. What would be bad? Fees, inconvenience. Anything that might be good in some respect? What could we live-with in the interest of showing that we are in favor of law-and-order and not feeding the criminals in our society with the tools of their trade? What could we trade-off for? Would we compromise something that might be good PR in order to get National Reciprocity?
      The absolutists among us might argue that #1 is the best course of action. We instruct the NRA to “Just say NO!” Is this wise policy? If so, then let’s carry on as we are on our boards. The problem is that the NRA is more clever than we are. They will carry on lobbying as they see fit; whatever they conclude will promote membership and additional contributions. As long as we adhere to choice #1, we exclude ourselves from influencing the outcome; other than by voting with our dues to support organizations that provide an alternate voice to the NRA. If we – the grass roots – want to participate in making the strategic and tactical decisions then we have to be willing to participate in debate over alternatives.
      I admire the absolutists as men of principle. Nevertheless, I’d like to see them make a sophisticated case for how a marginal interest group in any other “industry” has succeeded with Congress with a “Just say NO!” lobbying policy.

      • So exactly what is your point? Are you advocating compromise when it comes to the 2A? If so then what compromises do we need to make? If not then exactly (back to my first question) what are you advocating?

        • I’m advocating that we take a cold hard sober look at the strategy of only trying to stop all new legislation (other than a dreamed-of roll-back.) The absolutists don’t seem to have a strategy other than “Just-say-NO!” As a community, we should debate whether this strategy is apt to serve our purposes better than any other strategy.
          Personally, I don’t think it does. I think it pays to bargain for trade-offs that make sense for us. We give a little in one place in order to get something that works in our favor in the long run.
          What those trade-offs are remain to be debated. I don’t propose that I have the optimal answer. However, discussing any particular trade-off pairs is premature while we remain a community divided. It seems to me that most people who post on boards are interested in maintaining a no-compromise/no-negotiation position.
          I’m open to be convinced. I’d like to see the arguments that an “industry” such as ours has successfully advanced it’s cause by maintaining a no-negotiation position. We PotG may be so weak that the best we can do is prevent most new encroachments. If so, we resign ourselves to remain stuck where we are until we have a larger percentage of the population on our side.
          I presume you would like something more than the foregoing. OK, so I’ll offer a pair of trade-offs.
          We want National Reciprocity. Maybe some day we will get a Heller-like decision mandating Shall-Issue in every State. Assuming that doesn’t happen soon enough, we would like Congress to pass National Reciprocity. Most likely, it will be attached to a must-pass bill as an amendment that even Obama must sign. If not, then the next president will have to sign it. I believe that National Reciprocity is the most likely means of breaking into the Won’t-Issue States. If we don’t break into these high-population States the representatives and senators from these States will continuously attack us. We need to de-fuse the gun issue in these States. Voters in these States need to see that their streets do not run with blood after thousands of CWPs are issued to their neighbors.
          One of the top issues the Anti’s are pushing for is UBCs. We all have objections to UBCs. I believe that most of our objections are in some sense “side-effects” or “consequences” of the UBC system the Anti’s want. I invite you to think of the issue of UBCs afresh. Somebody must draft the bill. Who do you want to draft the bill?
          – Bloomberg?; or,
          – We, the PotG?
          Pick one. Suppose you pick Bloomberg to draft the bill. All the side-effects or consequences we fear will be in Bloomberg’s bill. Is that what you want to see in the bill? If so, then we have to use all our efforts to stop this bill from passage. Having nothing to offer in trade, we don’t have any chance of getting what we want: National Reciprocity.
          Now, suppose you pick we PotG to draft the bill. Are we collectively so lacking in imagination as to be UNable to draft a bill we could fairly characterize as UBC that would largely avoid the side-effects or consequences we fear? I believe our community has more imagination than that.
          How might such a UBC bill be drafted to avoid our objections? Let’s see. There is a class of prohibited persons who have lost (or never enjoyed) 2A rights. Felons, crazies, illegal aliens. We aren’t altogether happy with this list; but, that is a separate question. Do we hold that we want to protect our right to transfer a gun to a person who is prohibited to possess a gun? If so, please articulate the argument for why we should hold this position.
          Under the present laws we are prohibited from transferring to someone whom we know or believe to be a prohibited person. We are free to transfer to someone who is prohibited provided we can maintain plausible deniability. Is this the right we want to preserve? Right to transfer with plausible deniability?
          If we want to be perceived by the public to be intellectually honest we have to concede that it might happen that a private party occasionally transfers to a prohibited person. Some may do so unknowingly. Some may do so knowingly, but it’s hard to prove. Some may actively traffic in guns to be sold to prohibited persons, but it’s expensive to make the case. In any case, there is a “hole” in the system. It’s not a “loop-hole”; rather, it is there by design. In the 1990s Congress was unprepared to attempt to regulate private parties selling to other private parties. They were only prepared to impose the BC regime upon FFLs.
          Congress might change its mind at any time; it might decide to extend BC’ing to private parties. If so, either Bloomberg writes the bill or we do.
          Suppose we agree to a prohibition on transferring a gun to a prohibited person. Now, for the details.
          I propose to distinguish between 2 types of transfers: temporary; and, permanent. Loans vs. sales/gifts/raffles/inheritances. Let’s call the latter just “sales”.
          I propose that the “knew or should-have-known” standard apply to loans and that the violation is merely a misdemeanor. Now, all temporary transfers to friends and family are free of BCs in almost all cases. If I don’t know you well enough to believe you are not a prohibited person I won’t loan you my gun. If I do know you well enough I might, nevertheless, be mistaken. If the prosecutor wants to try to make the case he might get a fine or an X-month prison sentence; but that’s not a felony. I believe that the public would find this to be acceptable for loans. We can hold that it’s worth trying for a few years. If people are loaning guns that turn up in crimes and the lenders are able to sustain plausible deniability then we will reconsider this more relaxed standard for loans. Bear in mind that IF I claim to have loaned a gun then I should be able to name and locate the borrower. Isn’t that much of what law enforcement wants? A lead on a likely suspect? They have it.
          I accept that if the transfer is permanent – a sale – then the penalty is a felony if the person is – in fact – a prohibited person. Observe that if I give my wife/daughter/neighbor a gun based on faith alone then I give at my peril. A sobering thought. But, then, I wouldn’t give a gun to anyone I didn’t have complete confidence in.
          Now, I’d draft a “safe-harbor”. If the seller does a BC on the buyer and the buyer clears the BC, then the seller is exempt from the penalty. This would cover in case the BC turns out to be mistaken. The remaining problem is to make BCs available – somehow – to private sellers. Not an easy problem to solve.
          One acceptable possibility is to have an FFL conduct the BC on behalf of the seller. This must not be the sole vehicle. Additional possibilities are for sheriffs and police departments to provide the service; if they wish. Some departments will do so if they believe in supporting the BC system; others will not.
          Ideally, I’d like to make NICS inquiries open to any consumer. Then, the buyer could do a BC on himself and print a certificate good for 90 days. Or, the seller could do a BC on the buyer. There may be legitimate objections to opening the NICS inquiry system to the public. I don’t know what those objections might be; but, suppose someone can articulate a persuasive objection.
          Fine. So, open the NICS inquiry system to notaries public. If there is no FFL or police department in my neighborhood to avail me of the service at a competitive price then I can ask any notary to sign-up for access to NICS. The notary can take my ID, run the check and give me my certificate.
          All the foregoing will – in my imagined scheme – be back-up vehicles for rare transactions. Mostly, I would extend the existing law’s provision for a buyer to show a CWP/FOID to the seller and that showing would constitute a background check. “Frequent buyers” would simply make a point to get a CWP/FOID once (with renewal every 4 or 5 years) rather than jump through the foregoing hoops each time he goes shopping.
          So far, I don’t see the scheme I’ve envisioned to be particularly burdensome. It’s just a trade-off of this user-accessable BC system in exchange for our trade-off goal of National Reciprocity. The Anti’s want UBCs; well we offer them a UBC system along these lines.
          Observe that so far I’ve made no concession for paperwork. What is the claim the Anti’s want? Did they say UBCs or Universal-Paperwork? I heard Universal “BC” not Universal “Paperwork”. Paperwork shouldn’t really be essential for enforcing UBC. If a gun used in a crime is traced to FFL F, then we have a link to Ms. B who bought it. So the cops go interview Ms. B. She had better have a good story. Where did this gun go? She gave it as a birthday give to her boyfriend Mr. C. How did she BC Mr. C? Mr. C didn’t have a valid CWP/FOID during the time between her purchase date and the crime date. Moreover, FFLs in the surrounding counties show that they have sold a dozen guns to Ms. B in recent weeks. Where are these guns? More boyfriends? All with recent birthdays? What are their names?
          Will the cops do anything to pursue such lines of inquiry? No more likely than they pursue them now. Yet, that’s a different issue. Thats not UBCs.
          The problem with paperwork isn’t so much the creation of a record – whether it be a 4473 or some other form. The problem is with the retention period. FFLs are required to keep 4473 forms on-file for 20 years. It is too great a burden to expect a private party to keep a record of permanent transfers in secure retrievable storage for 20 years. Moreover, the combination of FFL 20-year storage with private party 20-year storage would threaten to create a precursor to a national gun database. That possibility has been rejected by Congress and on this point, we are non-negotiable. Do you want UBC or U-Paperwork? Make-up-your-mind.
          A back-up position could be a retention requirement of a year or two. Likely, Ms. B would be caught unable to produce her paperwork. Occasional traders could probably hang-on to their paperwork for a year or two.
          (Incidentally, some State laws require licensed dealers in their jurisdiction to officiate in private transfers of handgun or all gun transfers by private parties. My guess is that 2/3’rds of the States have some such requirement while 1/3 impose no more regulation than that imposed Federally. We aren’t – here – discussing a State-by-State fight to roll-back these State laws. Therefore, the cost of my scheme would be borne only by private traders in 1/3 of the States. There would be no change – no increase – in cost born by traders in the States that impose FFL intermediation.)
          At no point did I state or imply that I thought such a UBCs would reduce violence by gun by a single incident – ever. Whatever the benefit, it will be less than the cost. What would the cost be? Well, let’s look at that.
          The NICS database exists and must be maintained to service inquiries by FFLs. I imagine that the NICS database would need to be maintained for LE purposes even if the FFL BC system were repealed. If most permanent private transfers were under the auspices of the showing of a CWP/FOID then the marginal impact on number-of-inquiries would be negligible. Frequent buyers would obtain a CWP/FOID and rare-buyers from private parties wouldn’t put much marginal volume. The cost, however small or modest it might be, will be a waste.
          We need to weigh-off this cost as compared to the cost of fighting UBCs and the foregone benefit from passing National Reciprocity.
          Will the Anti’s accept my generous proposal for UBCs? Of course not! I’m not crazy. (I want to maintain my 2A rights so I’m not prepared to admit I’m insane.) I really don’t much care whether the Anti’s are satisfied. I’m only interested in working up a draft that Congress-critters can take back to their constituents in their home States/Districts. The politician needs to be able to say with a straight face: ‘Some of you want UBCs. Others objected to UBCs but want National Reciprocity. This deal gave some of you the UBCs you wanted and gave the others something they wanted. I concluded that it was a step forward for both camps.’
          Do you have a better pair/trio of trade-offs? Do you have a scheme for implementing UBCs? I’m open to discussing anything. In fact, I’m open to hearing from the absolutists why our best option is to play a holding action until we PotG have the overwhelming majority in Congress needed to play offense.
          I am not ready to concede that our best strategy is “Just say NO!” without someone explaining who has succeeded with this strategy in some other industry.

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