In political parlance, the term “loophole” simply indicates a purpose designed feature of a law which an opponent doesn’t like. Such is the case with the legendary “gun show loophole,” which is a favored boogeyman of gun control cultists. They can’t abide citizens selling personal property without the government’s involvement, so they introduce ridiculous legislation such as the “Gun Show Loophole Closing Act.” Originally introduced in 2013 by the former representative and firearms expert Carolyn “Shoulder Thing That Goes Up” McCarthy (D-NY), it has now been reintroduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Also D-Also NY).
The act would require private individuals (not dealers), to conduct a background check in order to sell a firearm to another private individual (also not a dealer) while at a gun show. Seems innocent enough, right? What’s the big deal with running a simple background check, anyway? It could be done easily enough…just set up a kiosk with NICS access and if you want to buy or sell a gun, just punch in the buyer’s identifying information, and bingo!
Of course, the first most obvious problem is how exactly to enforce this. As a private attendee, I go into a gun show with a pistol in a case which I wish to sell, and someone offers to buy it. He gives me cash, I give him the gun. How will anyone know if I did or didn’t run this guy through the magical NICS machine? Of course he could be an undercover BATFE officer, but that enforcement strategy is labor and time intensive, and thus expensive. And you’ll never have enough undercover guys to catch everyone. Even if you pop enough folks for skipping the background check to put the fear in them, all they have to do is leave the gun show to complete the sale.
What?! Leave the gun show! You can’t do that! Actually, you can. Maloney’s bill strictly concerns gun shows, and does not cover private sales outside of the event. (More on that later.)
Of course, another way to ensure that gun show attendees don’t sell a gun without a background check might be to write down what they bring in, and then check that they leave with the same gun they came in with, or maybe a receipt from the magical NICS machine. Yeah, maybe start keeping records of who buys and sells guns…you know, keep a registry. And the one truth that gun controllers won’t readily admit is that registration really does lead to confiscation. But ask any gun controller, and they’ll probably tell you quite openly that they just don’t like not knowing who has guns. Follow that up with a question about what good does that knowledge do them, and they’ll eventually get around to “then we can come get them if we need to.” That’s a whole different article, but the fact is that every large-scale gun confiscation in the last 100 years was preceded by the registration of those guns, and that it can happen here. It already has. (Don’t believe me? Google “California” and “SKS rifle.”)
The other problem with background checks at gun shows is that it will not reduce crime. Despite Maloney’s assurance that “background checks keep guns out of criminal hands,” that is simply not true. First of all, it has been documented that gun availability in general does not cause an increase in crime. Indeed, as gun ownership has soared in the United States, violent crime has decreased significantly. Violent criminals simply do not obtain firearms at gun shows, or from any other normal retail outlet…yet they still manage to get them. Can anybody envision Jules and Vincent having this conversation?
So… if enforcement of gun show checks is problematic at best, and won’t have any effect on crime, what could be the possible purpose of such a limited bill as the “Gun Show Loophole Closing Act’?
Easy. It is intended neither to be enforced nor to reduce crime. It is intended to do only two things. First, to encumber law abiding gun owners as much as possible. The harder you make it for a citizen to exercise their Second Amendment rights…or, infringe on them…the less likely they will be to do so. Gun prohibitionists are perfectly OK with that. But the second, greater objective of such a bill is specifically to fail to reduce crime. That way, when such checks are enacted and do not produce a reduction in crime, it simply paves the way for a wider-ranging, more onerous system. The gun prohibitionists will then stand in front of a camera and say, “It was a good first step, but it was not enough.” Translate that to say, “we infringed a little, but we need to infringe some more.”
What follows a first step? You know the answer.
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