I wonder what bright spark at the Washington Post decided to dedicate a year’s worth of reportorial resources on “semi-outing” local gun stores whose weapons ended up in the hands of criminals. Stores that haven’t broken any laws. Stores that the WaPo refuses to name. The second installment of the series is like one of those episodes of Miami Vice where the producers turned to a flashback montage of events that happened just before the commercial break. Note to WaPo: we get it . . .
Some gun dealers are more likely than others to sell guns to people who give them to criminals. Most are obeying the law. Some aren’t. The ATF is about as effective at shutting down the bad apples as they are at most everything they do (but it’s the NRA’s fault). So . . . guys . . . what IS your point?
I think they’re trying to say that bad people shouldn’t have guns, so the people who sell guns that make their way into the hands of bad people should be held accountable when it happens. An implications denied by one Mark Bailey.
“Do I feel responsible for someone using a gun in a crime? Honestly, I don’t,” said Mark Bailey, a gun merchant from Tazewell, Va., who sells at Richmond gun shows and is one the top 40 Virginia dealers. “If somebody goes down to Lowe’s and buys a lead pipe and goes out here and beats somebody to death . . . nobody in Lowe’s feels responsible for that.”
That’s a bit . . . out there, but what’s the alternative? Guns may be designed for one purpose (they’re not, but I bet you’ve heard that before), but other than banning them (on the front end) or jailing people for illegal use (back end) what can you do about it?
The WaPo shows its abject inability to grasp the nettle with their poll, which asks “Are gun stores responsible for crime?” What an amazingly asinine question. Are liquor stores responsible for a person who gets drunk and beats their wife (with a lead pipe from Lowe’s)? A WaPo reader parses it properly for us:
This is a very badly put question. If you were to ask me should a store be potentially liable – I would say yes – absolutely. A lot of gun rights supporters would say the same.
But that is not how the question is put – it asks if “Should gun stores be held responsible for crimes committed with weapons that they have sold?” as an absolute – should they be liable if a crime is committed – not matter what? And even ardent gun control supporters are unlikely to agree with that premise.
The fair question is – should stores be held responsible under certain circumstances for guns that they have sold that are used in crimes? What circumstances? For example an obvious strawman purchase? An illegal weapon? A sale without a background check?
In what circumstances should they not be held liable? If the gun was stolen? If the buyer had a gun license? If the buyer passed a background check?
Instead this is a simplistic question that seems to assume that the Post’s readers are stupid – or that they do not understand nuance.
The same could be said about the editors behind this series. Just sayin’.