Ammoland.com ran a story on a Wisconsin gun shop that has, since 2009, been handing the names of its customers over to the local constabulary, allowing The Man to look for criminals. Brew City Shooters Supply (BCSS) in its previous incarnation as Badger Guns, had been a source of straw purchased guns that later turned up in crimes. The, um, open book policy exists as part of an attempt to reform the reputation of the business . . .Wisconsin Carry is not amused:
Wisconsin Carry rejects the use of public resource to run background checks on law abiding citizens with no probable cause or reasonable suspicion whether those citizens were using a firing range, attending church, going to the grocery store, or stopping in a corner tavern for a cocktail.
I can see how this is a creative way to reform a business that had developed a bad rep. No gun shop owner wants to sell to a criminal, but candidly, straw purchasers can be hard to catch. I could buy a gun a week and never raise any suspicion, what with my good looks and abundant charm. It might be years before I was busted for being a straw purchaser, and only then after a gun is recovered as evidence at a crime scene. By then, the bad thing would have already happened.
Best case scenario is someone buys one gun a week. The first week: “Pleasure doing business with you – enjoy your Hi-Point nine.” Second week: “Another Hi-Point nine, huh?” Third week: ATF cuffs the perp. That’s a best case illegal straw purchaser bust, yet two guns are already in the hands of criminals. Brew City’s Shooters’ policy of running names past the cops has a certain logic to it if you want to repel the criminal class.
That said, what’s missing in this burst of civic responsibility is that only the social evil is being accounted for. As economic theorist Frederic Bastiat noted in his broken windows fallacy, no one considers what has not been seen. We see the two cops who have been shot, we do not see the two shop owners who repelled a deadly stickup just by having a gun.
The central premise of the bad reputation this gun shop acquired is that the social good of self-defense and responsible firearms handling nurtured at their gun range is outweighed by the social evil brought about by guns that made their way out in their shop and ended up in the hands of criminals. I’m not convinced this calculation is correct – I invite the Chief of Police to please show his work.
BCSS is in a part of town that has seen better days. Checking it out on Google Maps, it looks just like the area where the only public gun range in the city of St. Louis is located. I truly wish more people in urban areas – where the need for self-defense is most acute – would spend more time at a range and taking responsibility for themselves. In the process of keeping out the riff-raff, how many honest citizens are being turned away and what’s that cost? While we can see the drop in BCSS guns getting in the hands of criminals, we will never see the crime that wasn’t prevented.
It’s not my gun shop. And I can always take my happy ass up the road where the shop owner isn’t so cozy with The Man. My beef is that this policy of sharing names with authorities isn’t made clear on the website and apparently not spelled out for their members. Also from the Ammoland article:
Having spoken with members of WCI who frequent Brew City Shooters Supply, though they were aware they signed a liability release to use the range, they were NOT aware in any way that their use of the range was being reported to West Milwaukee Police Department.
The local po-po have no business running any kind of check without probable cause. It will be interesting to see if their clients agree.