The ATF states “A licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensee at a gun show without first complying with the requirements of the Brady law. ”Since the shootings at Newtown, the gun control debate has been intensely reignited in America. Many have called for an open and honest national dialogue. Honesty is a prerequisite to any such discussion.
President Obama and others have falsely claimed “up to 40%” of guns are bought without a background check via the so-called “gun show loophole”. The Washington Post Fact-Checker gave Obama three “Pinocchios” for this statement. According to the rating system used, this means there are “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”. This false claim comes from a 1994 study of 251 people from before the Brady Bill required Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) retail sellers to run background checks on all sales. The Washington Post reconnected with the original study authors who informed them the actual range is 14-22% with a +/- error margin of 6%, meaning the final range is 8-28%; neither end of the range approaches 40%. Further factor in the low sample size (251 people), the age of the study (1994), and that the survey was from before the Brady Law was enacted, and it’s apparent how weak this claim is.
Political wordplay in the choice of words must be considered. Loophole is defined as “A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law that provides a means of evading compliance.” Therefore, this would only be accurate if there were a law meant to restrict sales at gun shows that someone were evading.
What does the law say? According to the ATF, federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(t), 27 478.102 requires “Federally licensed firearms importers, manufacturers, and dealers must comply with the Brady law prior to the transfer of any firearm to a non-licensed individual.” This means that all FFL holders must run a background check on every sale, regardless of the location of the sale. Period. Specifically regarding gun shows, the ATF states “A licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensee at a gun show without first complying with the requirements of the Brady law. ”
The ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide, last updated in 2005, states that it is already a federal crime for a licensed gun dealer (FFL) to fail to run a background at a gun show, or anywhere else. Per 18 U.S.C. 922(t)(1), “a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer shall not transfer a firearm” (p.13) unless they run a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The penalty per § 924(a)(5) includes fines and up to a year in prison per violation (p.19). If the gun dealer knowingly sells to a prohibited person (§ 922(d)) which covers prohibition to felons, mentally ill, and certain other classes from possessing guns, they are subject to a fine and up to 10 years imprisonment per § 924(a)(2).
This means we already have a law that requires gun dealers to run background checks at gun shows. No loophole. The only other guns available at gun shows are available from private citizens wishing to sell personally owned guns. This is 100% legal from any location including one’s driveway, a parking lot, a back alley, or at a gun show – either inside at a table, or even in the parking lot outside of a gun show. Again, no loophole. Private sales are legal at any location and have been since the nation’s founding.
There is nothing special about gun shows. Gun control advocates’ focus on guns shows as a problematic location for private sales is specious: the Department of Justice studies show that less than 1% of felons acquire firearms from gun shows. The majority — nearly 80% — of them gets them from (already) illegal transfer via family or friends, or from the illegal trafficking on the black market.
There never has been a law making private sale firearms subject to background checks. The Brady Law requiring FFL licensed dealers wasn’t even enacted until 1994, and only covers licensed gun dealers. The law already requires FFL dealers to conduct background checks even at gun shows. The law does not require private sellers to conduct background checks at any location.
If gun control advocates wanted to close private sales, then it should be rightly referred to as such. Use of the words “gun show” in addition to “loophole” is political wordplay aimed at scaring those who don’t understand the law as it is currently written. Focusing on guns shows as the location associated with this so-called “loophole” only serves to obfuscate the fact that all private sales are legal, and it is a far cry from open and honest discussion
By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.
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