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Gun retailers are constantly exhorted to be careful to whom they sell a gun. And they are. The Reese family in New Mexico spent a year in jail for accepting false statements on the ATF new gun purchase form 4473. A Missouri gun store recently paid out $2.2 Million to settle a lawsuit after selling a gun to someone they were told was mentally ill. And yet . . .

There’s a flip side to this. When a retailer refuses to sell because they’re uncomfortable, they run the risk of being labeled discriminatory. The “discrimination” side of this squeeze play was demonstrated in Florida at a Bass Pro store. From

Bakr said, “There was an older gentleman there and he was kind of looking at me and I thought it was kind of strange, I told him something was kind of shady because he was staring at me and staring at the dude that was working with me.”

Bakr went through the entire firearms buying process, and paid the $5 for the background check.

“That’s when he told me he didn’t feel comfortable selling me the firearm because he said that since I was with Heath, they thought I was going to buy it and give it to somebody younger,” Bakr said. However, Smiley is 19, and has been sold guns before.

Gun retailers have, quite deliberately, been put into a no-win situation. More than that, the whole idea of stopping criminals and miscreants from obtaining guns by doing checks at the retail level is flawed. It doesn’t accomplish its stated purpose of preventing “bad people” from getting a gun.

There are nearly 400 million guns existent in the United States. Retail checks have been shown themselves to be ineffective in preventing crime in any measurable way. If a person wants a gun to do evil, they’re either legally prohibited or not. If they’re not prohibited, they can buy a gun.  If they’re prohibited, they can have someone else buy for them or purchase a gun that is stolen or manufactured in the black market.

What retail checks do: make it difficult for marginally motivated buyers, such as Bakr, to become gun owners. The vast majority of people prevented from buying guns aren’t a threat to anyone.  The effect of retail background checks is a chilling of the exercise of the Second Amendment.

The history of infringements on the Second Amendment is a history of racial discrimination. Robert Sherrill, in The Saturday Night Special, wrote that the purpose of the 1968 Gun Control Act, which initiated the national regulation of guns at the retail level, was to keep guns from inner city black people.

The approach didn’t work, and it never has worked. The crime and homicide rate skyrocketed after the 1968 law was passed. It didn’t come down until the revolution in legalizing concealed carry was underway.

We would be better served by repealing the entire 1968 law, and concentrating on removing guns from those who are legally prohibited from having them.

That’s the approach used by project Exile. It’s the approach promoted by Harvard scholar David Kennedy.  It requires that police work with communities to concentrate on bad actors. This results in more legitimacy for the police.

When that happens, there are spectacular reductions in homicides. It’s the opposite of the approach in the Obama administration, which promotes the de-legitimization of police.  That approach has resulted in the Ferguson Effect, enormous increases in urban homicides, and increased homicides of police officers.

Donald Trump has mentioned project Exile. He would do well to bring David Kennedy on board as a crime policy advisor. Repealing the counterproductive GCA 1968 would be another positive step but I don’t expect it in a Trump first term.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. The Reese case was a complete sham by the ATF. Out of something like 30 charges they managed to make 1 stick which was overturned on appeal. It did what they really wanted which was to destroy a family owned gun store chain. I personally knew the Reeses and I will never forgive the ATF for that one.

  2. But what about these same “pro-gun” right groups who sold arms to Mexican drug cartels and foreign terror groups?

    What about these same “Pro-gun freedom” groups that armed the spree shooter in Germany, the Canadian parliament spree shooter, charlie hebdo attacks, the Bataclan shooters, the Sydney Australia martin place killer, the Orlando killer and the San Bernardino attackers.

    People like you need to clean your own houses before you point the finger at your delusions of “evil liberal progressives”.

    Common sense says you don’t sell a gun to someone who shows signs of mental illness or someone who has a criminal record or ties to violent political groups.

    Requiring psychological background check to prove mental stability and proof of a clean criminal record are not “unconstitutional”.

    The NRA does do a good job convincing the weak minded that they need guns more than they need to feed their families.

    • “But what about these same “pro-gun” right groups who sold arms to Mexican drug cartels and foreign terror groups?”

      Oh, you mean like Operation Fast & Furious? Where the ATF (under the Obama administration) specifically instructed gun shops to sell to suspicious characters? (Side note, if your op needs a nifty code name to sound more legit, it’s probably a bad idea.)

      Or do you mean another “pro-gun” group? If so please clarify because as far as I know, the NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, and so forth, don’t actually sell guns.

    • Every time you whine, I laugh for joy.

      If I couldn’t read your sad words and picture your bitter tears in my mind’s eye, I simply don’t know what I’d do for kicks.

        • Its posts like this that make me believe you are just doing this to pantomime anti gun folks for a laugh, since the only person to call anyone names so far is you.

        • We’re also heavily armed and in charge as of Jan 20th. Go run to your safe space and prepare for a federal preemption bill that will gut every state gun control law on the books.

        • We’re paranoid? You dumb marxist turd pushing baby killing jihadi fellatist.

          YOU gave all the guns to the cartels and the terror groups. The NRA had NOTHING to do with it.

          You should get down on your knees and thank the GOD WHO WILL OBLITERATE YOU FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH that we gun owners are not ONE PERCENT the violent scum that the PEOPLE YOU DEFEND ARE.

          PS – You’re missing your toe tag.

        • And people like you will be really tough behind a keyboard. Get out of the safe space in your momma’s basement. The real world might surprise you.
          And the last time I saw any oppression…. it was coming from the left.
          Wake up and smell the coffee. More and more people are buying firearms.
          Why you may ask????
          Because of left wing nut jobs like yourself. People rioting cause they didn’t get what they want. Talking about assassination of the president elect.
          Those are your people.
          Trump won because of people like you.

    • US dealers are not selling to Germans, Canadians, the French, etc, so the bulk of your examples are pointless.

      To buy a gun from a dealer you need to pass a criminal background check already. As for your psychological test, please explain what that involves, what guidelines will it follow, who will administer it and above all, what criteria will deem a person unable to purchase a gun? As we have seen, men who are mentally fit enough to join the military should be allowed to own a gun (barring criminal activity) yet even active duty soldiers have gone on killing sprees.
      Additionally, how do you propose updating record systems so a central database has constantly updated mental health records available while keeping lawfully aware of HIPA?

    • How have you not heard of Operation Fast and Furious? Either blindly selective research, or you are a troll. Either way, pretty unnecessary and just plain stupid.

    • Let’s do some sort of evaluation before letting citizens exercise any of their constitutional rights. Perhaps an IQ test before being allowed to exercise First Amendment rights.

    • Dean, I generally look forward to reading your posts here, but this little piece concerned me and I mention it here because it sounds like it could have been written by the Troll just above:

      “…and concentrating on removing guns from those who are legally prohibited from having them.”

      I fail to see ANY Constitutional methods by which the government can legally prohibit anyone from having a gun. There are no qualifiers in the Second Amendment. The only possible way this could happen is if a particular person (not a class of persons) has committed a crime, been apprehended, convicted and incarcerated, and then their RKBA could only be severely RESTRICTED for the time they were actually in custody.

    • AAPGO, Does YOUR residence have “GUN FREE HOME” signs on all the exterior entries ??? (4″ high lettering, minimum)

      If not, then YOU are a HYPOCRITE.

    • These people you mentioned were not armed by pro gun groups, and the Mexican drug cartel’s were supplied their guns by the US government under the Obama administration, and Attorney General Eric Holder in a poorly designed ill-fated attempt to track where they went, and which cartels received them.

      Your comments are obviously the delusional ones, or downright lies.

  3. The ATF told me that I can refuse to transfer a gun to anyone for any reason. If I don’t like their socks, I can refuse to transfer a gun to them. If I don’t like their politics, their associates, whatever, the ATF has told me, more than once, that they will never wag a finger at me for “discrimination” or whatever the buyer/transferee would like to mount as a complaint.

    • The ATF is not the worry regarding refusing a gun sale. It is the offended person you denied a gun. If the offended person is a special person (member of a protected group), you risk being subject to a frivolous law suit, and likely to lose. If a protected person complains, you will be required to prove you did not discriminate, or commit a hate crime.

    • Of course the ATF won’t go after you for discrimination. That’s the job of the DOJ Civil Rights Division. Totally different agency.

      • ^^This^^.

        Get a rep for denying blacks, gays, jews, gypsies, women, hispanics or any other group outside straight white males and you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of a civil rights dispute at the state or federal level.

  4. And remember this unconstitutional, discriminatory law passed in the first place thanks to an endorsement by the National Rifle Association.

      • Yes, the NRA endorsed the GCA (and the NFA). That’s a fact.

        The sooner everyone admits it and holds the NRA’s feet to the fire, the sooner we can get them to work on repealing these intolerable acts instead of ignoring them.

    • “Opposition by National Rifle Association

      “After the Brady Act was originally proposed in 1987, the National Rifle Association (NRA) mobilized to defeat the legislation, spending millions of dollars in the process. While the bill eventually did pass in both chambers of the United States Congress, the NRA was able to win an important concession: the final version of the legislation provided that, in 1998, the five-day waiting period for handgun sales would be replaced by an instant computerized background check that involved no waiting periods.

      “The NRA then funded lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming that sought to strike down the Brady Act as unconstitutional. These cases wound their way through the courts, eventually leading the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Brady Act in the case of Printz v. United States.

      “In Printz, the NRA argued that the Brady Act was unconstitutional . . . the NRA told the Court ‘the whole Statute must be voided.'”

      Nanasty, if yuo’re going to make sh!t up, it should be something that cannot be easily refuted by reading Wikifreakinpedia.

      • And even if it was true, so what? The NRA of today is not the same as it was 90 years ago (NFA), 50 years ago (GCA), or even 30 years ago (FOPA) or 20 years ago (AWB) (depending on how you much of those you consider their fault).

        They (“we/you/me”) ARE fighting to undo them.

        • The AWB gets a big “MEH!” from me.

          The law had a sunset built into it. Litigation carries the risk of losing the case. There was no reason to go to court and potentially lose a case arguing the AWB was unconstitutional when the law was going to die anyway. A loss would have only have emboldened the libtards to reinstate the ban permanently under Obama or raise Holy Hell to extend it in 2004.

          If it was continued or reconstituted in a permanent form then you might sue but really the AWB is the best thing that ever happened to the AR platform and it’s friends like the AUG, Tavor, AK… and well just about every semi-auto MSR.

          In all fairness however, I bought my first AR in 2005 and before that was either too young to purchase one or too poor. So, to me, the AWB never really existed because by the time I was legal and capable of purchasing one they were legal again and came in so many flavors it took me forever to pick one out. Easily the longest I’ve ever spent in a gun store.

  5. I once read an article that referred to a unilateral (as opposed to universal) gun check system where the prohibited persons database would be made available to dealers to refer to as opposed to asking the government for permission to sell to a far-more-often-than-not innocent person. I googled it, but I only found a copy of the original article. Too bad: I think such a system makes far better sense than NICS on every issue.

    • That proposal is called “BIDS”. As a comparison to NICS as-is it is a very interesting idea. However, so far as I remember, all it does is eliminate the possibility that the Feds might be retaining an illegal copy of the daily flow of inquiries from FFLs.
      If you are a skeptic then you will be inclined to believe that the Feds are violating the law that requires them to erase the “Proceed” inquiries after 24 hours. Conversely, if you believe in the full-faith-and-credit of the Federal government then you would see little advantage in BIDS over NICS. (Perhaps only that the Feds would be unable to slow the sale of guns by delaying responses.)
      Heretofore, I had been inclined to believe that NICS was good “security theater” for the industry. “See ladies and gentlemen, and child-like thinkers of all ages, the gun industry is doing about the best we can to separate the black-market from the legitimate market.” Sort of like making alcohol and tobacco dealers card their customers.
      Now, I think that the whole notion of NICS is so flawed that it doesn’t even serve this limited purpose of “security theater”. NICS tracing works for new guns; but, not for tracing of used guns sold by FFLs. Starting from make+model+serial, how could the ATF find the FFL who last sold this gun used? If it was last sold used just once, then there is a chance that the original buyer (new) would remember that he sold it to the “X Gun Shop”. Conversely, if it was last sold used with several intervening sales, then the cops would have to pray that each legitimate buyer remembered who he re-sold the gun to.
      UBC can’t possibly be made to work better than FFLs’ sales of used guns; not without something equivalent to a National Registry”. Therefore, UBC can’t be made to track-down straw-buyers of used guns whether sold by FFLs or by private parties with FFLs officiating in the BC.
      Let’s imagine that there is a National Registry. That would mean the tracing system would work; provided, of course, that the serial number is not defaced. And, we know that serial numbers can’t be defaced if you don’t have access to a Dremel!
      So, let’s imagine that the criminal justice system will imprison a prohibited-person found in possession of a gun with a defaced serial number (notwithstanding that they will plea-bargain the gun charge if the serial number is clear.) Then, somebody somewhere will manufacture (illegally) handgun frames with counterfeit maker’s marks and serial numbers. Traffickers will “launder” the guns their straw-buyers feed them using counterfeit frames; adding $125 or so to the cost of the trafficked guns.
      So, depending on whether stolen guns keep up with black-market demand, trafficking in guns bought new/used from FFLs or from private parties under UBC with a National Registry ought to raise the black-market premium above prices available in the legitimate market by some amount <= $125.

      So, gentle-voters, do you really want to have a civil war over the issue of pricing criminals out-of-the black-market by just $125 (at most)? Is that really worth it?

  6. I have favored repealing NFA 1934, GCA 1968 and the Brady Bill of 1993 for a long time. I would like to see either a Federal Law or SCOTUS Ruling that repeals all State and Local Laws that violate the principle of the Second Amendment, if such is possible.

    The net effect would be to Federalize the jurisdiction of firearms and take the option for States and localities away. That removes the most draconian infringements being legislated against RKBA by States and localities. OTOH it places all possible firearms legislation into the hands of the Federal Government, which could, in a foreseeable future, enable the Fed to sweepingly infringe every Americans’ RKBA with one enactment. So, the creation of a two-edged sword rife with unintended consequences is possible. However, it cannot be denied that the States and localities are legislating the most egregious infringements on RKBA, and only Congress or SCOTUS can put an end to this tyranny.

    Essentially, what I am saying launches a 10th Amendment issue because it would be a matter of the Federal Government claiming powers not previously thought to be “reserved” to it and denying the States and localities jurisdiction they have heretofore controlled. Might not fly without an Amendment to the Constitution. Might never be possible.

    The concept of Project Exile sounds like a good start and I will look at it more closely. If my plan were implemented, then the Fed, States and localities could certainly focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of bad actors and “prohibited persons”, but I think there would still be issues with fair treatment for the mentally ill. It might require an entire re-thinking of the whole concept of “prohibited persons” and enforcement applicable to them.

  7. Discrimination is a basic human right and a natural survival trait, it should be supported.

    $5 for a background check? They are raping their customers.

  8. The FFL holders job is supposed to be transference of the firearm.
    It’s the FBI job to investigate.
    Isn’t that the whole point of NICS check.
    Now the FBI, are trying to hold FFL holders responsible for the FBIs own investigative incompetence.
    FFL holders, are not law enforcement and unless they actually hear a customer planning to harm another their job, is to transfer the firearm.
    This is the kind of shit government gun control creates and this is what it controls.
    Now every FFL holder in the country will be acting like cops, using discrimination and racism to pick and choose who gets to exercise their 2nd amendment rights and who don’t.
    This kind of shit, is not how the constitution works.
    Real criminals will not try and purchase from a FFL dealer anyway damn way.
    The federal government trying to punish FFL dealers for failing to do the FBIs and ATFs jobs for them, is one big testament to failures of government gun control laws.
    We have let big government drive country and constitution into ruin.
    It’s time society started defending both.
    Our own government has long been the greatest threat to United States.
    Rights belong to the free.
    Government privileges, are for slaves.
    Bureaucratic tyranny, is the quietest and most dangerous kind of tyranny there is.
    Look at what it’s done to our country.
    It’s easier to criminalize the citizenry, than to actually catch real criminals.
    Government gun control, only controls you, like it was always intended to do.


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