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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The myth of the 'gun show loophole'

by Kurt Hofmann

I have stated before that the top firearm banning priority of the forcible citizen disarmament lobby will be so-called "assault weapons," with their second favorite target being .50 caliber rifles. I stand by that assessment, but I predict that even before they make a concerted effort to ban any guns, they'll go after gun sales--specifically, private sales at gun shows, and the mythical "loophole" such sales supposedly represent.

This goes beyond the fact that closing the "gun show loophole" is mentioned as an "urban policy" priority on the Obama administration's website, and that closing the "loophole" is a longtime priority of our new attorney general, who has stated that in his opinion, the Supreme Court's Heller decision poses no obstacle to such a measure. The myth of the so-called "gun show loophole" has become so pervasive that in our last presidential election, even the supposedly "pro-gun" (according to the NRA), Republican candidate has long taken a widely publicized stance in favor of banning private sales at gun shows.

"But," you might ask, "is that such a bad thing--aren't gun shows 'arms bazaars for criminals and terrorists'?" Well . . . no, actually.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report on “Firearms Use by Offenders” found that fewer than 1% of U.S. “crime guns” came from gun shows, with repeat offenders even less likely than first-timers to buy guns from any retail source.

Licensed gun dealers are required by federal law to jump through all the hoops--background checks, sales records, etc.--at gun shows that they do in their shops. The "problem," according to the forcible citizen disarmament lobby, is the private sellers, who can sell guns from their personal collections without all the red tape. According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), these "unlicensed sellers" constitute 25-50% of the retailers at gun shows. This conveniently ignores the fact that a great many of the retailers at gun shows don't sell guns--they sell t-shirts, books, war memorabilia, etc.

Worse yet, ending private sales at gun shows isn't going to satisfy these people. After all, a private sale at a gun show is no different in principle from a private sale anywhere else. The Brady Campaign, in fact, no longer even bothers to hide the fact that the goal is a ban on all private gun sales, anywhere-"No background check, no sale, no excuses," as they endlessly spout.

They'll undoubtedly argue that they're not trying to ban private sales--they just want to require federal background checks. The problem with that "logic," of course, is that there is nothing private about a sale that can only proceed with government monitoring and approval, just as a phone conversation with one's spouse can hardly be considered private if the NSA is listening to it, in order to make sure that terrorist plots are not being hatched.

No free society can accept that standard of "privacy."

Original here

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